Majoring in history made all the difference for Pfeiffer graduate – The Stanly News & Press
When Mac Macsovits, a 1997 graduate, told his mother, the late Anne McLean Macsovits (Class of 1977), that he would be majoring in history at Pfeiffer University, she said it would make him unemployable. Anne had majored in English at Pfeiffer, as had another son, Peter. Her career as a family nurse practitioner didn’t really take off until she earned a master’s degree in nursing from the University of Tennessee in 1996.
Macsovits was undeterred. He has held paid employment in several fields, including teaching, philanthropy and business. He is an ardent defender of the human sciences.
“The history major opened my eyes to a lot of things in the world, through books and research,” he said from his home in Denver, Colorado. “It sparked in me a desire to learn more and more. I have my religious beliefs, for example, but why do other people believe the way they do? Why do people write certain poems? Why do the characters histories act as they did?
Macsovits credited two former Pfeiffer history professors, Dr. Karl Campbell and Dr. Juanita Kruse, with inspiring him to explore everything from Pfeiffer’s Misenheimer campus to various foreign cultures around the world.
“I’m not sure I would have had that curiosity if they hadn’t gotten it out of me,” he said.
Macsovits became curious enough about education to earn a master’s degree in education from Vanderbilt University in 2002. Soon after, he moved to Denver, where he taught history at a local high school for several years.
He then turned to philanthropy, first as major gifts manager for the Colorado field office of The Nature Conservancy, which works to protect and care for nature. Macsovits’ appointment to the reserve coincided with the birth of his son, Guion, who has Down syndrome and faced significant heart problems early in life.
“I traveled a lot,” Macsovits said. “I was worried about being on the road and my wife, Rebecca, was going to call me and be like, ‘Hey, you know, I’m going to the hospital for emergency heart surgery.’ So, I knew I wanted to do something closer to home.
This turned out to be volunteering to then lead Special Olympics Colorado’s development operations, between 2007 and 2009. Over time, Macsovits learned that the Rocky Mountain Down Syndrome Association was looking for a new executive director. He applied and landed the position he held between 2009 and 2020.
When Macsovits’ tenure with the association began, it only served the Denver area. He eventually expanded the association’s scope to include all of Colorado and Wyoming as well as eastern Utah and northern New Mexico.
“I knew exactly how Rebecca and I felt when we received the diagnosis,” Macsovits said. “We felt alone, unprepared, scared and sad. I couldn’t sleep at night knowing that many people outside of the Denver area were going through the same thing, but I had no one to call or no one to support.
Macsovits’ donations as a fundraiser resulted in an increase in the association’s annual budget from $300,000 to $1 million. The association now has the means to live up to an “unwritten” motto: “If you call us and need us physically to be with you or at a meeting with your educator or doctor, we’ll be there within 24 hours, no matter where you are.” This contributes to a sea change in thinking about people with Down syndrome: “Rather than being marginalized in friendless isolation, they are getting married,” Macsovits said. ” They are divorcing. They go to university. They get their driver’s license. They live very typical lives. You couldn’t say that 20 years ago.
Macsovits currently serves a three-year term on the association’s board of directors. Towards the end of his term as executive director of the association, he had begun to feel that he had pushed the organization as far as he could.
He also needed a way to distance himself from the “crushing” scenario of “waking up with Down syndrome, going to work for Down syndrome, and coming home with Down syndrome”. So in 2020, Macsovits joined Cask Catalyst, a new company that helps emerging brands in the “bev-alc” industry “grow in the right direction.”
“We don’t work with startups,” Macsovits said. “We work with emerging brands who may need help with brand building, sales, marketing and distribution so they can take it to the next level.”
Each Cask Catalyst partner wears a different hat. Macsovits took on the role of the numbers guy, helping the distilleries with budgeting, finance, income and expenses. He loves his job, having long collected and tasted various bourbons and whiskeys.
Macsovits therefore made a long and varied journey. In a sense, this journey began for Pfeiffer many years before he enrolled: he grew up in Norwood. His mother began dating Pfeiffer in her late twenties. She stood out as a single mother who made Aces while raising three children and working odd jobs. While she attended classes, Macsovits and her siblings played on campus and watched the trains that periodically passed through it.
“We grew up on this campus,” said Macsovits, who was about 10 when her mother graduated.
The Anne McLean Memorial Endowed Scholarship was established by Caldwell McAlister, Macsovits’ grandmother, and supports students of Christian faith with a minimum 3.0 grade point average, who are preferably non-traditional students. Macsovits would follow in his mother’s non-traditional footsteps: After attending Eastern Tennessee State University for a semester, the first Gulf War broke out and, wanting to serve, he joined the US Marines Corps.
When Macsovits left the army, he was 24 and his friends were college graduates. He concluded that he would not earn what they were without a college degree. Macsovits found Pfeiffer particularly attractive because his small size and close student-teacher relationship were conducive to his learning style.
“When I enrolled at Pfeiffer, I became the old man sitting in front of the classroom trying to silence the 18- and 19-year-olds in the back of the room, so I could learn,” he said. he declares. “Having been in the Marines, I knew that life can be fleeting and I wanted to make the most of my time at Pfeiffer.”
That’s exactly what he did.
“Pfeiffer is the keystone to everything I’ve done in my life professionally,” he said. “If it weren’t for teachers who pushed me to be a better learner and opened my mind to various things, I don’t know where I would be, to be honest with you. .”