At the young age of 24, Victoria Mekus had finished school, established a career and battled cancer.
“I was 23 years old when doctors found a spot on my kidney,” said Mekus, who was a University of Mississippi journalism major with an emphasis in print and a specialization in public relations.
Today, she is a senior communications strategist for Hunt Marketing.
“I started working for Hunt Marketing while I was still in school,” said Mekus. “The team has always been extremely encouraging, which made it easier for me to focus on my health when it was most important.”
While working for Hunt Marketing and battling kidney cancer, Mekus realized life was a gift.
“I first found out I had a spot on my kidney when I went to the emergency room for severe abdominal pain,” said Mekus. “I was referred to a urologist who shared with me that it was likely benign, but I felt uneasy and wanted more answers.”
After consulting with a few different doctors, she realized answers would not come as easily as she hoped. She began questioning whether she should ignore her instincts and settle for the “wait and watch” method. When none of the doctors listened to her request, she questioned her sanity.
“I was told by pretty much everyone that kidney cancer in a female my age is rare, so do not worry about it too much,” said Mekus. “I finally found a wonderful doctor who, I felt, listened to me and didn’t base everything on statistics.”
After months of scanning and noticing a few changes in appearance, Mekus’ doctor opted to remove the 3.5 by 2.0-centimeter tumor.
“The day after surgery, my doctor received the pathology report to confirm renal cell carcinoma,” said Mekus. “To be honest, I was relieved at first because it meant I wasn’t crazy and that this whole process was worth it.”
The recovery process for this surgery is long, but Mekus could not wait, returning to work after four weeks before receiving the medical release.
“I was so bored sitting at home and started easing back into work as soon as I could,” said Mekus. “I was ready to get back to it. It kept me sane.”
Originally from Vicksburg, Mekus planned on studying psychology. After one semester, she knew she wanted to change to journalism.
“I love to write and was good at it even though journalism sometimes felt restricted to me,” said Mekus. “It was not until I took a feature writing class toward the end of time at the University of Mississippi when I realized how much I enjoyed this industry.”
After working a retail job for two years during college, Mekus finally got into the industry she loved. She began working with the Hunts her junior year of college.
“I met Will and Beth Hunt as they were building up their business in Oxford,” said Mekus. “I shadowed Beth for a while and learned a lot from her because of her incredible experience in online marketing.”
The end of her college career became hectic. She was still in school, working for Hunt Marketing, and had landed an internship with Baptist Memorial Hospital North Mississippi
“It was cool to work in an agency setting and a corporate setting simultaneously,” said Mekus. “I had a wonderful supervisor and gained a lot of great experience.”
Jondi Roberson, director of marketing for Baptist Memorial Hospital of North Mississippi, said Mekus worked there as an intern. “We have had a lot of interns, but Victoria was one of our favorites,” she said. “She was professional and so engaged.”
Mekus is still with Hunt Marketing four years after she started. She is now the senior communications strategist with different daily tasks.
“My day at Hunt Marketing is always so different,” she said. “In a marketing agency, my day-to-day work revolves around what everyone else is working on that day,” said Mekus. “I could be proofing videos, writing ad copy, newsletters, radio scripts. My favorite is when we go film (at) location for clients. Last week we drove to Florida.”
Hunt Marketing has grown since its inception in 2009. The company offers in-house services, such as videography, photography, graphic design, website design, brand development, social media management, community involvement and more.
“Victoria is very efficient and catches a lot of the mistakes I let slip up,” said Will Moore, senior graphic designer for Hunt Marketing. “She holds us to a very high standard. Her work is always top-notch quality.”
While Mekus had a lot of experience working for Hunt Marketing and learning everything from the journalism school, she followed in the footsteps of her mother, Patty Mekus, who has been in the marketing and public relations industry for over almost two decades.
“I grew up watching my mom work and excel in her career,” said Mekus. “Ironically, being so exposed to the industry steered me away from it initially.”
Mekus said she attended events at age 9 with her mother and has joked about networking as a child.
“It is funny because I actually call my dad for a lot of advice as well,” said Mekus. “His work is client-based so, I am always asking for advice when it comes to working with our clients.”
Time management is a challenge. “There might be something I have a deadline for,” said Mekus. “But if someone else on the team has a deadline, I have to make sure it is met as well.”
After work, she meditates, travels and enjoys time with friends and family. “I feel like I operate at a much different pace at work than when I am just relaxing at home,” said Mekus. “There is a fast and energetic flow at the office, so when I go home, I can take things slower and be a little more carefree.”
Mekus has learned a lot since beginning her career in 2014, battling cancer and helping build a marketing agency.
“Make time for yourself,” she said. “After experiencing a decline in my health, I made sure that once 5 p.m. rolled around, my work was done for the day. No matter how much you love it, always make time to focus on yourself. Luckily, our agency encourages us to emphasize this.”
She also said make sure a job or office is a particular fit for you. “I never want to work someplace where I cannot be myself,” said Mekus. “Having a creative, open mind is the best part of my job. I try and live my life by my dad’s words, “It’s a good day to have a good day,” and working at Hunt Marketing makes it that simple.
Mekus hopes to visit at least 150 countries by 2028 and to continue working in the marketing industry.