In college, Meghan Cease never imagined she would become one of the most successful event planners in the Southeast. At only 32 years old, the owner of Birmingham, Alabama-based M. Elizabeth Events reached a point in her career when she felt it was time to give back to the University of Mississippi — the place she credits much of her success.
With her recent gift to UM’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media to create the Meghan Elizabeth Cease Student Experience Scholarship Endowment, Cease wants to give students the opportunity to learn beyond the classroom.
Cease chose the Meek School because she says her classes there made the biggest impact on her professional journey.
“My public relations classes in the Meek School were the ones that made me seek internship opportunities, guiding me toward a career in PR and eventually event planning,” Cease said. “With the added major of integrated marketing communications (IMC), Meek students now have even more exposure to how technology and marketing is evolving.”
Cease cites one class specifically as a landmark in her college career: journalism instructor Robin Street’s public relations campaign class, which required an internship. She still remembers the day a wedding planner came to speak to the class.
“I decided that I would like to intern for her,” Cease recalls. “To my dismay, I ended up being placed in a sports marketing internship. However, as part of the internship, I was planning a variety of events, coming up with unique ideas for each. I come back to this experience time and time again as I plan my own events.”
Cease hopes her gift will enable students to take advantage of the type of opportunities that shaped her own career — internships in New York City at Conde Nast’s Cookie Magazine, David Yurman, and Elie Tahari, where she specialized in public relations and special events. Additionally, her resume includes two international study-abroad experiences.
“Not every student has the means to pack up and leave,” Cease said. “I want this to provide a chance for students to quit worrying about finances and to simply delve into the industry and focus on the experience at hand.”
Cease’s college classmate, Jason McCormick, now development officer for the Meek School, has witnessed his friend’s interest in public relations grow to the level it is today.
“To paraphrase an old saying, if you love your work so much that you would do it without pay, you will be a great success. Meghan is a perfect example of this. I’ve seen her passion flourish into a spectacular business that includes planning events for some of the nation’s most prominent families,” McCormick said. “We greatly appreciate Meghan’s willingness to share her good fortune to benefit our students.”
Cease graduated from Ole Miss in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and corporate relations and completed a master’s degree in international marketing and project management from Auburn University in 2008.
“My path was unclear,” Cease said. “Personal relationships led me to look into starting my own event planning company. Two weeks later business cards were made and I had discovered my passion.”
In its first year, M. Elizabeth Events planned six weddings. Focusing on thorough research and a detail-orientated approach, Cease consecutively grew this number, now planning 70 events per year. Most recently, M. Elizabeth Event has taken on a handful of corporate events for Samford University and Tervis Tumbler.
“I am going on nine years of owning my own company,” she said. “Every day is different and presents a new set of problems to solve. But what I love most is the individualism that each new client brings. I get to tell 70 stories a year that are uniquely their own.”
Individuals and organizations can make gifts to the Meghan Cease Student Experience Scholarship Endowment by sending a check with the fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, Miss. 38655; or by visiting www.umfoundation.com/makeagift. For more information, contact Jason McCormick at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-915-5944.
By Hannah Pickett