For more than 15 years, Angi Pauley was the “ray of sunshine” inside the Columbia College Grossnickle Career Services Center. She held the role of office coordinator and was a valued member of the college’s Division of Student Affairs. If you were to ever venture to the second floor of Missouri Hall, you could always count on a smile and warm welcome from her.

On Oct. 8, 2020, Pauley unexpectedly passed away. On what would’ve been her 57th birthday, the Columbia College community and several members of her family gathered to remember her and formally dedicate a tree and plaque in her honor.

Pauley played a vital role in the success of hundreds of students, faculty and staff at Columbia College. Specifically, her love and dedication to mentoring student workers was unparalleled. Pauley was tasked to lead a variety of student-focused initiatives, including the college’s annual career fair.

“Angi revolutionized our career fair and worked so hard to setup the details to lineup students and employers in the college community,” said Dean of Student Affairs Dave Roberts. “We received so many compliments each year from employers that told us that our career fair was superior than any other they attended in the area. She helped create so many events in the Career Services office to help students find their purpose and potential careers following graduation.”

Angi Plaque
This plaque featuring Angi’s picture will be on display in the Grossnickle Career Services Office in memory of her many contributions to the college. Photo by Leslie Kennon

Displaying Columbia College pride was also a passion of Pauley’s, as she spearheaded the college’s “Cougar Pride Friday” initiative. All students, faculty and staff are encouraged to wear navy blue and silver or grey each Friday to showcase their Cougar passion and support.

“Angi would walk around campus with a wagon full of Columbia College giveaways, highlighters, t-shirts and whatever else she could find and give it away to those participating in the program,” said Roberts. “She was a spirited supporter of Columbia College and was passionate about the work she did. You could also always find her with a smile and displaying contagious positivity.”

While Angi clearly made countless contributions to the day-to-day operations at Columbia College, it was her personal touch that also made an impact on so many lives. Dan Gomez-Palacio, former director of Career Services, worked closely with Angi for 11 years and wrote a special passage that will display alongside a plaque and picture of her inside the Grossnickle Career Services Center.

Gomez-Palacio recalled a moment that truly epitomized Pauley and what she meant to so many, following the sudden passing of his mother in 2012.

“I came back to campus probably a little too early following her passing, but I wanted to get back into the swing of things,” said Gomez-Palacio. “Angi saw it on my face as I walked into the office on my first day back. She stood up and without a word gave me a huge hug. It made me feel so appreciated and loved. After that, I was able to get back to work again and it was just what I needed at that moment. It said a lot about her ability to connect with people and what she meant to everyone in the office.”

Photo by Leslie Kennon

The morning’s dedication ceremony in mid-Missouri stemmed from Pauley’s family receiving a donation to Superior Garden Center for a tree to plant on campus in her honor. At the foot of the tree reads, “May this tree stand as an everlasting tribute to the love and support you gave us all. Forever in our hearts. Angi Pauley: July 23, 1964 – October 8, 2020.”

There’s no doubt that Pauley’s spirit and impact on Columbia College will last for generations to come. Whether it was her eye-catching personal style, legendary cooking at staff potlucks, or warm and compassionate personality; she will certainly be remembered for eternity by those who were lucky enough to interact with her.

To close the ceremony, Roberts shared a surprise discovery by his staff leading up to the event. Each year, Columbia College is proud to celebrate Women’s History Month and Pauley submitted a personal profile to share the greatest lessons and wisdom she had learned in her lifetime. Her thoughts perfectly captured the type of person she was, as well as what so many others aspire to be.

“I learned that you cannot buy happiness,” penned Pauley. “Enjoy the skin you’re in and love yourself. I must surround myself with positive people and positive energy. My cup is always half full and not half empty. We will all make mistakes along life’s journey, but I have and always will learn from those mistakes. My motto is everything happens for a reason. We’re put here on Earth to make a difference to someone or something.”

Angi's Tree
A crowd of more than 100 family, friends and former colleagues came together to honor Angi Pauley and dedicate a new tree in her honor outside Atkins-Holman Student Commons on July 23, 2021. Photo by Leslie Kennon.