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  • Alumni Spotlight - Jessica Whittaker '18

January 23, 2023

This month we’re shining the spotlight on Jessica Whittaker '18 as she reflects on her Midway University experience.

Degree(s): MBA; Hospitality, Tourism, & Event Management

Hometown: Dayton, OH

Why I Chose Midway: I had a working relationship with Midway through a former employer for a program focusing on engagement with Midway and middle & high school aged young ladies. Through the partnership, I continued to support Midway and when I saw Midway had introduced more industry-focused masters' programs, I had to reach out and express interest. The smaller class sizes really interested me, as well. There was more focus on individuals from professors and I enjoyed the smaller class format (in-person or virtually).

Favorite Midway Experience or Memory: I was mostly a virtual student but was able to connect with several students that were local to the state of Kentucky. I was able to work closely with other members of the spirits industry to increase tourism through immersing our teams in the culture at other distilleries.

What Midway Means to Me: Midway reminds me that just because you are smaller, does not mean you are ineffectual. This coincides with the teams that I choose to work with, and for. Small teams, or groups, have the tenacity to accomplish large tasks and meet goals. The benefits of being smaller and tightly knit, makes for deeper bonds.

Advice for Future Eagles: Be mindful of yourself. Always consider your feelings when new projects, opportunities, assignments, come up. Many times, we do not consider the mental toll that some activities have on us. It is important to always take stock of yourself first and work through that. I can recall far too many times in my career that I have automatically agreed to a project and did not take stock of what I needed in order to be successful (professionally or personally). Also, venture out! Try something new. One aspect of life that I will always take advantage of is trying something new. You never know where your passions may lie.

Where are You Now: Currently, I serve as the Deputy Director for Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. My position focuses on finance, human resources, visitor experience, facilities, operations, and strategic planning. It is a big job, but it really focuses on all of my professional strengths!

Interesting Fact About You: I worked in the bourbon industry for many years. My bourbon collection spans many different distilleries. I have a vast bourbon collection that I hope to continue to add to while I am in St. Louis! Also, I love to bake. My specialty is bourbon cheesecake brownies.

Other Information (family, etc.): My family currently lives in Huron, Ohio - close to Cedar Point (the best amusement park on the planet-my honest opinion). For almost 10 years, I worked in the Visitor Center at Buffalo Trace Distillery. I worked my way up from a Gift Shop Associate, to Tour Guide, to management during my time there.

Favorite Quote: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou