Commencement Spotlight: Natali Maness
May 11, 2023
SHSU Media Contact: Campbell Atkins
Each semester, the Commencement Spotlight series highlights graduating Bearkats with a “can-do” spirit through challenge and service.
Master of Business Administration
Natali Maness first came to Sam Houston State University as an undergraduate student exactly 100 years after her great-grandfather, Hugo F. Hummel, began his studies at Sam Houston Normal Institute in 1907. Despite the changes and hardships endured since earning her bachelor’s degree in kinesiology a decade ago, she prepares for another Bearkat graduation and her Master of Business Administration diploma.
“I am the only relative to continue our family’s legacy here at SHSU,” said Maness, who has also worked at the university since 2017. “I want to help the university run as a well-oiled machine so that less of the burden is passed onto the students.”
Maness worked as an athletic director for a charter school in Houston before tragedy struck when her husband, Kyle, endured a near-death incident at his workplace in 2015. As a result, he was bedridden for five years and his required care brought the couple back to Huntsville. She then returned to her alma mater in 2017 to work for the Kinesiology Department and the Lowman Student Center.
“I realized I needed to further my education if I wanted to make a difference on campus,” Maness said. “I enjoy most business-related functions and helping connect people. The MBA program was the most versatile master's plan that could broaden my knowledge base on management, finance, marketing, economics, accounting, communication and leadership.”
Maness often references the quote, “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.” It’s an appropriate motto when you consider the fact that she welcomed her first child into the world while balancing her work, education and husband’s care in 2019.
“I joke that going for my MBA was my mid-life crisis,” Maness said. “There were many nights I stayed up past midnight to get everything completed. Now, I can see the light. Amidst those challenges, I chose to create detailed plans each semester and stick to them with little flexibility.”
Maness admits her time at SHSU has taught her the value of service. During her undergraduate days, she did mission work through Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship and currently volunteers at her church on projects such as Operation Christmas Child through the Samaritan’s Purse Ministries. Other student organizations she supports include Bearkats for Life, Young Conservative Federation (YCF), Campus Outreach and Kats in Support of Shelters (KISS).
Maness is currently a member of Staff Senate and an administrative coordinator in the Controller’s Office and plans to use her newly acquired MBA to continue raising the credibility of the university that is part of her history and heritage. She is currently participating in a professional coaching program through SHSU’s graduate school.
“My hope is that it will help me figure out ‘who I want to be when I grow up’,” Maness said. “I have grown to love efficiency and open communication, especially in all functions of business.”
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