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Chauncey’s Champion Someone making a difference.

I Spy: Michelle Marken: the woman who does it all

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Michelle Marken, who works in the dean's office at CCU's College of Science, was nominated for I Spy for her giving spirit, both on campus and off.
Michelle Marken, who works in the dean's office at CCU's College of Science, was nominated for I Spy for her giving spirit, both on campus and off.

As an administrative assistant, a volunteer for multiple charities, a member of several organizations, a grandmother of three, and an avid crafter, Michelle Marken sets the example of someone who has no free time on her hands.

Originally from New Jersey, Marken moved to Conway with her husband 10 years ago when she got a job as a receptionist in the dean’s office for the College of Science at Coastal Carolina University. She was promoted last year to administrative assistant, and she now works closely with the associate deans and handles student paperwork from Orientation to commencement.

“Michelle is not only dedicated to the College of Science at Coastal Carolina University, she is dedicated to the students, staff and faculty across campus,” said Melanie McKeefery, administrative and customer relations specialist for the Registrar’s Office and nominator of Marken for I Spy. “Michelle will bring little homemade treats to us around the holidays to brighten our day. If I call her for any work-related issue, she is always there to help.”

I Spy is an employee recognition program whereby people can nominate staff and faculty members for outstanding performance.

Marken is known around campus for her holiday surprises. She loves to craft in her (rare) spare time. For holidays, she makes festive bags, fills them with candy and delivers them to the offices on campus. Paper crafting is her favorite, as evidenced by the beautiful decorations around her desk.

She also offers her time to many charities and organizations. Her favorite group has been the Blue Star Mothers Coastal Carolina, which is an organization for mothers with a child or children in the military. Marken’s son-in-law, Robert Oldeack, was in the Army. Though he is now a veteran, she remains an active member of the group. She joined Blue Star eight years ago and was given the position of historian almost immediately. She served as historian for eight years.

As historian, Marken scrapbooked, recorded events, and made cards and care packages for the soldiers. Each holiday, she made cards to put in the packages, which amlunted to more than 700 cards per year.

She also volunteers for Operation Christmas Child as part of Samaritan’s Purse, packing shoeboxes full of special gifts for children who would not get anything for Christmas. These boxes are sent around the world to children in need. Marken packs at least one shoebox every month, sometimes more. Volunteers are not required to fill a certain quota of boxes; Marken does it because she enjoys it.

Marken takes on personal projects as well. She and her husband, Alf Lambert, began a new challenge this year in which every time they go to a grocery store, they buy something to donate to the food bank, Helping Hand.

“I figured if I’m able and blessed enough to buy something for me, I can buy something for someone else, too,” Marken said. “It piles up quickly!”

Last year, she decorated 100 luminary bags to donate to Relay for Life in Myrtle Beach. Each bag is a $10 donation. She has also made tutus for runners in the BFF Pink Ribbon Run in Myrtle Beach.

“‘No’ is not in my vocabulary,” Marken joked.

Marken has three grandchildren: Faith, 15, Mandy, 10, and Bobby, 8. They live in Florida with her daughter, Denise Oldeack, and son-in-law, but they come up to stay with her every summer.

“It’s like summer camp!” Marken said, already excited at the prospect of seeing them this year. Pictures of them surround her on her desk while she works. While they are in town, Marken likes to take them to the beach, go mini-golfing, play board games and spend quality time with them, which she hopes create memories that they will have for life.

“Michelle always steps up to do what needs to be done in our office,” said Michael Roberts, dean of the College of Science. “Even when processing stacks of graduation applications, she is always able to help a student with an enrollment request or a general petition. Her ‘can-do’ attitude helps make all of our days go smoothly.”


Related Photos

Marken enjoys making special treats for her colleagues. Marken's son-in-law Robert Oldeack was in the U.S. Army. He is now inactive, but Marken still works for Blue Star Mothers. Friends Helping Friends is a community food drive that Marken volunteers for every year at Thanksgiving. Shoeboxes are packed and wrapped for Operation Christmas Child and sent around the world to children in need. Here's one of the tutus Marken makes for the BFF Pink Ribbon Run, a fundraiser for cancer patients. Marken's family includes, from left, grandchildren Mandy, Faith and Bobby, Cooper the dog, son-in-law Robert and daughter Denise.
 Blue Star Mothers of Coastal Carolina, from left, Wendy Singleton, Michelle Marken, Karen Grischuk and Laura Doerrbecker. Michelle Marken, who works in the dean's office at CCU's College of Science, was nominated for I Spy for her giving spirit, both on campus and off.
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