During the last two decades, Melissa Mack has had a hand in planning just about every major research event at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center as well as helping with the operations of the main administrative office. Her passion for UNC Lineberger is infectious. Though she isn’t planning to leave anytime soon, she said her love for cooking could lead her to opening a café one day.
Can you tell us a little about your career at UNC-Chapel Hill?
“As of March 6, I will have been at UNC for 25 years. I started out working in the ER at UNC Medical Center for a year and then I went into private industry for several years. When I came back to UNC, I started as the receptionist for UNC Lineberger. Since then, I’ve held several different roles, from assisting Joseph Pagano, MD, the first director of UNC Lineberger, until his retirement, to working with Michael O’Malley, PhD, Shelton Earp, MD, and Chad Ellis, PhD. I currently serve as UNC Lineberger’s operations manager.”
What does your role as operations manager entail?
“I assist with the administrative duties of the main office dealing with the director and associate director. I also plan and coordinate all of the cancer research symposia and seminars for the center. That allows me to meet so many diverse groups of folks and all of them have the same goal – to cure cancer. Event planning has allowed me to meet so many top cancer researchers with varying gifts and talents. It’s very rewarding and I love my job. The people here are awesome to work with. I wouldn’t have stayed here for 25 years if that wasn’t true. The experience of family and community makes working here a pleasure.”
Do you have a favorite Lineberger memory that you can share?
“It’s so hard to narrow it down but I do really enjoy events where I’m working with patients. I help plan the local Kidney Cancer Association Meeting every year, and I’ve gotten to know many of the patients and survivors that attend through the years. I wasn’t able to attend this past year due to my son’s graduation, but I was told one of the patients who comes every year asked, ‘where is the little lady that usually helps us?’ The patients and survivors knowing who I am and looking for me year after year means a lot to me.”
If you weren’t working here at UNC Lineberger, what could you see yourself doing career-wise?
“I do want to eventually open up a little café or restaurant. It’s going to be hard work, I do a little cooking on the side now, but that’s my goal once I retire. My husband is totally on board and he will do most of the hard work. I’m hoping I can get my kids to help out too.”