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Five Questions with Ronald McDonald House Events Coordinator Ellison Lambert

5 Questions with Ronald McDondald House Events Coordinator Ellison Lambert, College of Natural Resources, Ellison Lambert

Ellison Lambert graduated with a degree in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management in 2019. She is now working as the Events Coordinator for the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill, which serves as a home-away-from-home for families whose children are receiving treatment at UNC Hospitals.

What is a typical day in your job like?

What I do each day depends on what events I have coming up. Some days, I might be sitting at my desk all day reaching out to event attendees, creating invitations or programs, and working in our event software. Other days, I’m out in the community meeting with different vendors or soliciting auction donations. No two days are alike as an event planner, which makes the job even more exciting!

What impact are you making on your community through your work in this position?

I work at the most special place ever. The Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill is an incredible place and I’m so honored that I have the opportunity to impact the families that come through our doors every day. We serve families each year from all 100 counties of North Carolina, other states, and even other countries! In 2019, we had over 13,000 nights spent at our facility. 

My office is right in the main “House” and I get to interact with families that are staying with us every day. It is so special to meet the kids and parents, listen to their stories, and hear first-hand how the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill impacts them. The events that I plan raise funds that go directly back to serving the families that call the House their “home” during their child’s treatment.

How did the College of Natural Resources prepare you for the job you have now?

I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunities I had during my time in the College of Natural Resources. The Internship Orientation course helped me to become confident in my interviewing skills and gave me resources to help find internships that I later utilized when looking for a job. Other classes gave me firsthand experience in the community planning events and networking with potential future employers and references. Being an ambassador for the College of Natural Resources as well as President of Rho Phi Lambda, the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Honor Society, strengthened my organizational and public speaking skills. 

The faculty show they are invested in ensuring that their students succeed and reach their goals while giving them resources to help them get there. I truly don’t think I would have been as prepared to enter the workforce without the faculty and staff supporting me, the resources that were made available to me, and time spent gaining applicable skills that I have been able to transfer to my current position. 

What inspired you to study PRTM and what do you like most about the field?

I actually spent my first three semesters studying Business in the College of Management. I took the Intro to Parks, Recreation and Tourism course as an elective credit and absolutely fell in love with the field. The class was so much more engaging than any other one I had been in and the professors had such a passion for the material. I was absolutely hooked and switched my major shortly after. 

I had always known that I wanted to help others and be in a career that I was truly excited and passionate about, and I could see that for myself with a degree in PRTM. I like that the field is full of professionals that are all excited about what they are doing and the impact that they are having on others.

What’s the best piece of advice you could give to a current College of Natural Resources student?

I would encourage all students to get plugged in and utilize all the resources that CNR offers! Get to know your professors and peers, familiarize yourself with the website and resources offered there, and join other organizations within the College. There is some type of organization, honor society, or social club to fit every single interest.

Apply to the Enrichment Fund to receive scholarships and attend conferences. Connect with alumni (like me!). Do research with your professors. Whatever you do, just get the most out of your college experience so that you’re as prepared as possible for your future!