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Photo by Jeffrey Hanlin Photography

MU unleashes dog handler’s potential

Maria Neff ’12 lives for her canine colleagues. She turned her passion into a career as a professional dog handler, and saw her business thrive after graduating with a business management degree in 2012.

A native of Greenville, Ohio, Maria shows dogs at competitions all over the country and occasionally abroad, including the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club dog show and the Eukanuba Tournament of Champions. She began her handling career as a high school student and cultivated her business skills at Manchester.

“I was essentially running my own business when I started at MU,” says Maria, “but I had no idea how little I actually knew!”

Maria started her MU career undecided about a major, but found her niche in management. She absorbed information that she knew would help her in her career. “With the well-balanced mix of classes all business majors are required to take,” she says, “I felt like I was improving my skill set on a daily basis.”

One of those skills is her writing. Manchester’s Accounting and Business Department places a strong emphasis on writing and Maria is particularly grateful to Professor Timothy Ogden, who has a reputation for being a grammar stickler, for making her better. “Being able to write professionally and communicate effectively has helped me to gain some of the best clients and opportunities available in the business,” says Maria.

Maria also notes the importance of financial aid to her education. Income from her dog handling business helped pay for school, but without University scholarships, she would not have been able to stay at MU. “I am forever grateful to all the donors who fund scholarships,” she says. “Donors truly make education at Manchester possible.”

In the end, “Manchester gave me the skills I needed to better run my business in all aspects,” she says. “It was, without a doubt, the right fit for me.”

By Ben Ogden ’12

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