“If you get out of school and find yourself working in a field that you’re not sure you want to work in for the rest of your life… get out and find something that is your passion.”
So says Julie Suedmeyer-Buller, a Southeast Missouri State University alumna, who is a testament to that advice.
After all, the Cape Girardeau native took several positions before landing her dream job about a month ago. And just before leaving her previous position as director of development for the YWCA South Hampton Roads, she was named to Norfolk, Virginia’s Inside Business 2016 Top 40 Under 40, and honor for which she was nominated by friends and professional colleagues.
“It is an amazing honor to be recognized,” said Suedmeyer-Buller. “It is humbling to know that others see the hard work and want to take the time to talk about the difference I am making in the community.”
Suedmeyer-Buller has found success after straying from her original career path and criss-crossing the country during her early years in several non-profit roles.
After graduating from Southeast, she accepted an internship which led to a permanent position with the American Cancer Society in St. Louis. She moved to Portland, Oregon, in 2008, where she was employed by the United Way of Columbia-Willamette as a temporary campaign manager. Her next stop was in Hartford, Connecticut, with the United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut where she met her husband, Michael. In 2012, they relocated to Virginia where she began her work with the YWCA in Norfolk.
About a month ago, she began a new position in Norfolk as a customer development advisor with Sentara Healthcare where she supports the cardiac, vascular and neurosciences service lines and leads marketing efforts for the emergency departments in the region.
“Before taking this job, I wasn’t in the field of my true passion or what I’d been educated to do, so, in some ways, I wondered if I would ever get the chance to get back to what I truly loved and what I felt called to do,” she said. “But now that I’m in my true field of interest, I have relied a lot on the things I learned at Southeast. My core classes in health management really prepared me to understand how the body works and help me to market a product or service to the right population because I know about the body.
“In every position I’ve had since graduating, I feel like I’m truly making a difference. I have a passion for health and healthcare, and it is a great feeling to be able to communicate to the public about the products and services they are able to access so close to home.”
She is committed to making an impact in healthcare management. Suedmeyer-Buller graduated from Southeast in 2005 with a degree in health management, health promotions option, with minors in marketing and integrated marketing communication. She started her college career as an international business major at Southeast, but after struggling to pass Calculus, she says she looked into health management.
“I took HL111 over the summer, and I found myself loving every minute of it,” admitting that she enjoyed the material so much that she even found herself reading the textbook as she walked to class. “I knew I’d found my calling. Dr. (Jeremy) Barnes is a great instructor. I’m so thrilled to be able to be using my education again,” she said.
As a Southeast student, she participated in the Health and Wellness Association, but focused most of her time on working and studying.
“I really enjoyed my classes honestly,” she said, adding she is grateful to have had her mother working on campus as a safety net when she needed her.
“When you’re 18 and out on your own, you don’t realize or want to admit how much you still need your parents,” she said. “Having her nearby was my saving grace on many occasions. Whether I needed respite from class or a snack, she was always there.”
Since graduating from Southeast, Suedmeyer-Buller has earned a master’s degree in public policy administration from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and her Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE).
She and her husband, Michael, are the parents of a son, Austin, 2, and are expecting a second child this fall. Suedmeyer-Buller is the daughter of Howard and Marti Suedmeyer, who is employed in the Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology at Southeast.
The 40 Under 40 honoree offers students these pieces of advice: “Enjoy your time in school. Rely on your family and friends as your support network. Do not be afraid to ask for help. And find something that you enjoy learning about or studying to major in. This is the time to find out what that is and pursue it.”
Secondly, don’t worry if you decide to switch gears.
“It is easier to start over while you’re young rather than waiting 10 years to pursue the career path you really want,” she said. “Some people aren’t lucky enough to pivot the way I’ve just done. I count myself very blessed that I’ve gotten the opportunity. Everything happens for a reason, so be willing to see the lesson in things that come your way.”