Running on four to five hours of sleep is the way Michelle Mack is used to doing things. The 41-year-old marketing professional is the embodiment of the modern day professional.
From being president of the York College Alumni Association to chief administrator for her church, Abiding Love Ministries, in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, Mack is a woman on the go.
“Life is about setting yourself apart from others and going about to achieve all that you deserve,” said Mack, who grew up in St. Albans, Queens to a hard-working, God-fearing family.
Growing up, her parents were pastors at Abiding Love Ministries. Her dad, Richard, is a retired truck driver for New York City’s “Strongest,” the Sanitation Department and her mom, Leetha, is a retired Bank of Tokyo transaction specialist.
Raised with a strong emphasis in music, Mack attended the LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in Manhattan where she studied vocal, ballet and tap dance.
She described herself as a “city girl with a big southern heart.” That cheerful attitude of showing your best kept Mack pushing forward to graduate. And after high school, Mack worked to help her family out, which might not have been her dream situation but gave her life focus.
“Life has its variables,“ said Mack. “You never see eagles flying in a pack, always alone.”
For Mack the ability to work gave her a positive outlook on life. She worked as a dishwasher, file clerk and eventually as an accountant for Black Entertainment Television and the National Basketball Association. That same positivity keeps Mack balanced, now juggling the task of the alumni association and being in the process of making a gospel album. Throughout all her career struggles, Mack stayed in school. She attended York in 2005 and remained until she graduated in 2011 with her Bachelor’s degree in business.
“Michelle came to York and she had a hunger for learning,” said Professor Mychel Namphy of the English Department. “She might have had a few bumps in her way but she came out like a gem.”
Mack classified Namphy as a professor who became a friend and big brother.
“She is like a throwback to the strong black women who define our history,” said Namphy, who understood Mack’s plight and guided her in the right direction. “The women who dealt with so many trials but were the glue that held everything together.”
The one person that kept her motivated was her devoted, loving grandmother Sadie, who often stayed up late studying along with her. Her grandmother, born in 1919 in Charleston, S.C., dropped out of high school to help support her own family.
However, it is the bonds that Mack made at York that prompted her to come back to her alma mater. Her expertise in the area of marketing led her to the presidency of the Alumni Association. Mack has a real passion burning deep inside her to see York prosper.
“No matter the name on the sweat shirt we are all using the same textbooks, from York College to Columbia University,” said Mack.
She isn’t content with all that York can do, helping to really connect to students through the alumni association. She hopes that the connections she made at York would be the same connections current students would find and use it to motivate that to be the constant professional in whatever field they choose.
Mack’s advice to a balancing a crazy life and staying motivated is to just, “Be present,” she said.