Humans of UD: Beth Mackenzie

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Photo by Helen Maier

Name: Beth Mackenzie

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois 

If you ever go near the Visitor Center, you’ll probably run into Beth Mackenzie, the warm-hearted lady who greets all visitors to the university. 

Described by junior drama major Charlie Mihaliak as a “sweet woman” who is “dedicated to her work and with helping students,” Mackenzie exudes a friendliness that radiates from her smile and her obvious love for the University of Dallas. In fact, her joy and love for the school  helped her to gain her position as the receptionist at the Office of Admissions.

Originally from Chicago, Mackenzie grew up with many important figures who  shaped her into the kind-hearted and loving woman that she is today. Beth recalls the role models from her childhood including her “wonderful parents and a grandmother … who very much influenced [her].” 

In fact, it is because of her parents that Mackenzie was able to obtain a Catholic education,  from kindergarten all the way through twelfth grade. Although she decided to attend Purdue University, a public university in Indiana, to study fashion retailing during her college years, it is in part the Catholic education of her youth that would later shape her goals and hopes for her kids and her adult life. 

As an adult, Mackenzie raised several children, and, although they were living in Wisconsin, she wanted to provide her children with a strong faith-based environment to nurture their spiritual and academic growth. 

She recounts how their family moved to Irving “so that [their] children could attend some good Catholic schools.” While her kids were attending Cistercian Preparatory School and the Highlands School, her eldest son was also simultaneously attending UD. This oldest son introduced her to UD’s environment, which would ultimately lead her to her future career path.

Mackenzie explains that she first “stayed at home as a stay-at-home mother for 24 years.” As her children became older, however, Mackenzie realized that she no longer needed to stay at home, and going back into the workforce was what was best for her.  

Mackenzie said that “[she] saw [her] children enriched with the UD curriculum,” and that UD’s tradition guided students to “come to grow in their relationship with God intellectually as well as personally.” So when the opportunity came, she decided to apply to work in the Office of Admissions. 

For the past 10 years, Mackenzie has  graciously and wholeheartedly helped prospective applicants navigate  UD’s admissions process and has also trained  student ambassadors. 

Mackenzie is responsible for answering phone calls for admissions and financial aid, running things smoothly at the office and greeting visitors and guests when they arrive. Beth’s greatest goal in her job is to make “visit experiences excellent so that [she] can help more students to have the opportunity to have UD’s kind of education.”

Such a job entails both difficulties and pleasures. For Mackenzie, training student ambassadors to acquire the skills they need to successfully represent the school “takes a lot of patience sometimes on her part.” 

However, the  challenge is all worth it when she gets to enjoy the joys of “sitting and chatting with students all day.” Mackenzie especially enjoys  communicating with international applicants, and wishes that she could form closer relationships with students who have been admitted and are current students. As for current ambassadors, the student employees are “wonderful friends and coworkers.”

Finally,  I asked Mackenzie if she could tell me some stories from her time in the Visitor Center, and she sure does have interesting experiences. 

Frequently, she comes across  “people [who] think they’re calling the University of Texas at Dallas” as well as people “who have stopped by for visits that they planned at UTD, but they drive to UD.” 

Though this may seem like an annoyance, Mackenzie encourages these people to stay and learn more about the university. She hopes that the “student would like so much what they learned while here … that they would apply and end up as students here.” 

If she had the chance to change her position in the university, she would love to become an administrative assistant in one of the academic departments.

“It would be neat to facilitate for those professors, and to also be in touch with the students that way,” she said.

If you have some spare time, I would recommend getting to know more about Mackenzie and just starting a conversation with her if you’re near the Visitor Center. I’m sure she would love to get to know you better!

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