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I’m an eighth generation Floridian, and I’ve lived all over the state. Born in Tallahassee, grew up around the Capitol when my mom worked at the Department of Agriculture, spent some time in Santa Rosa Beach and Sarasota and then Gainesville for school. My mom and I had art galleries when I was growing up, so I was always by her side. We painted walls, we hung all the art, we laid floors — anything she was doing, I was right there next to her. Watching her instilled in me that I could do anything I wanted. There's nothing that she's scared of; nothing that she ever felt limited by.
I was studying premed in college and realized health care wasn’t for me. I missed the hands-on stuff I grew up doing. It had really fulfilled me, and it made me realize that I didn’t want to be in an office all day. I was looking for fulfillment and heard about Project Makeover. It’s a student-run organization at the University of Florida that beautifies local elementary schools. The project team spends a year planning, then 1,500 volunteers do art, landscaping and construction projects for a chosen school over the course of a weekend.
When I saw photos of the team painting a big map on the floor and murals throughout the school, I just volunteered. I had grown up painting with my mom, so that really captivated me. I fell in love with it. By senior year, I was managing all the volunteers, planning all the projects. I’m still involved, leading alumni events, and returning every year for the makeover. Project Makeover recently became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with the goal of expanding to other schools.
I don’t know if I would have considered construction if I hadn’t done Project Makeover.
I don’t know if I would have considered construction if I hadn’t done Project Makeover. I always liked being active, but turning over the school in a weekend — being part of the grit and teamwork it took to get that done — fueled my passion for building. Coordinating that many volunteers over the course of a weekend really set me up to be a superintendent.
It's a soul reset. We’re showing kids at schools in need that someone cares about them. The best part is walking the students around and watching them get excited, realizing that people did something like this for them. They’re seeing someone cares and wants to invest in them.
After her experience with Project Makeover, Mackie Myers got her master’s degree in construction from the University of Florida. She is a superintendent at Suffolk’s Sunseeker Resorts project in Port Charlotte, Fla., and recently appeared in Gulfshore Business to talk about reverse mentoring with Operations Manager Butch Shull. To read that story, click here.
To learn more about Project Makeover, click here.
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