It’s no secret that college is growing more expensive. Recent data from the Institute for College Access & Success shows that average borrowers graduate with nearly $27,000 in debt. While this kind of post-school burden can be prohibitive for many students, the PCMA Education Foundation is helping to lighten that load.
Anne O’Neill, CMP, CAE, founder of OES Management, has seen both sides of the equation as a student and a donor. Before she began making an impact in the meetings industry as a PCMA member and volunteer, she was lucky enough to benefit from other meeting professionals who were committed to making education affordable for tomorrow’s leaders.
“I could not have afforded college without scholarship help,” O’Neill says.
Thanks to funds from organizations such as Visit Denver and Marriott, O’Neill attended Metropolitan State University of Denver and earned a BA in hospitality management and event planning. Today, armed with her CMP and CAE designations, O’Neill is helping her association clients at OES Management with everything from organizational strategic planning and financial management to onsite management at annual meetings.
However, she’s doing more than keeping her own business successful. She’s also keeping the entire industry on track. O’Neill is a member of the founding donor class of the PCMA Education Foundation’s Legacy Society.
“Like those that came before me, I have a chance to help those that come after me,” O’Neill says,
“Now that I’m in the workforce, I see my chance to give back,” O’Neill adds. “For me, my money always follows my heart. I invest in things that have a bright future.”
That investment is more than purely monetary, too. O’Neill currently serves as the advisor for the PCMA Rocky Mountain student chapter. She also regularly returns to her alma mater as a guest lecturer.
“I firmly believe that an educated workforce will elevate our profession, and assisting students with their educational expenses is more of an investment than an expense,” O’Neill says. “As our industry continues to evolve and mature, meeting planners must have a higher level, wider range of skills to ensure that the meetings industry always has a ‘seat at the table.’”
The Foundation Needs Your Help, Too.
There are plenty of opportunities for you to make a difference in the future of the meetings industry, too. From giving money for scholarships and research to attending Party With a Purpose at Convening Leaders, it’s easy to show your commitment.
Be a donor, and join your colleagues to help pave the way for the most promising students with scholarships to pay for education and attend Convening Leaders.