Staff Spotlight: Mary Elmer

Mary Elmer manages the Passport Services office, a unit of the Office of Global Engagement, a position in which she serves not only the university faculty, staff, and students but also the Triangle community. While Mary consistently goes above and beyond in providing exceptional customer service to everyone who visits the office, she also makes sure to connect passport applicants with NC State’s global programs, services, and events available to them.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am originally from a very small county in Virginia (less than 7,000 people). I graduated cum laude from Virginia Tech in 2012 with a dual-degree in applied economic management and agricultural sciences with minors in animal and poultry sciences, environmental science, and international agriculture. In the fall of 2012, I came to NC State to begin my master’s degree in natural resources. Part of my master’s program was to also serve two years in the Peace Corps. From June 2013 to September 2015, I served as an Agricultural Extension Agent in a rural, indigenous region of Panamá. In October 2016, I received my master’s in natural resources, economics and management.

How long have you been with NC State and the Office of Global Engagement?

Three years

Tell us what you do in a few sentences.

I manage and coordinate all aspects of the NC State University Passport Acceptance Facility including supervising 18 acceptance agents, initiating new office procedures, and marketing Passport Services to NC State and the wider community. In addition to solely executing over 50 percent of all passport applications, I am also responsible for interpreting and adapting to new immigration policies and procedures.

What’s your favorite thing about your work?

My favorite part about my job is processing passport applications for naturalized citizens and those who have difficulty speaking English. I can’t even begin to count how many people over the course of my travels who have gone out of their way to help me through similar situations. When given the opportunity to assist others in a similar way, it feels like I’m giving back in a small way!

Tell us one thing we might be surprised to learn about you.

I commute to work via public transportation every day. I’ve lived in several different countries where that was the only option, and I have just become accustomed to the commute. The best part of my daily commute is meeting new people and lending a hand to others in need.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I love to garden and just generally being outdoors. I compost and upcycle most of my household waste. I’m always trying new and innovative ways to reduce my carbon footprint and thinking globally but acting locally.

What’s one thing on your desk you brought from home?

My water bottle. I never leave home without it! While living in Panamá, clean drinking water was sometimes a scarcity and from that experience, I always try to stay hydrated!

What’s your favorite travel destination?