By Alicia Cook
Bloomfield College alumna Jessi Melendez ’18 recently shared news that she has been admitted to her two top graduate school choices, the University of Utah and Michigan State University. Michigan State’s Critical Studies in Literacy and Pedagogy master's program has offered Melendez a full-ride, covering tuition, health coverage, and a TA assistantship in their writing center.
Upon completion of this graduate program, the English grad plans on acquiring a PhD in Rhetoric and Composition and hopes to secure a teaching position in higher education.
“I came to Bloomfield completely lost. First, I studied psychology, then communications. I finally found my place as an English Literature major,” said Melendez. “It has been the best decision I have ever made in my academic career. It is where I shined. It reemphasized that I was meant to become an educator.”
Melendez, a New Jersey native and 2006 graduate of Mahwah High School, says her journey to Bloomfield College was not an easy one, and she faced financial troubles, and, even homelessness.
“I had financial difficulties pretty much the entire time, but nothing was going to stop me from earning a college degree,” she shared. “Due to situations beyond my control, I experienced being homeless for the second time in my life. That was the last straw for me. I had to get out, and I haven’t looked back since.”
She was awarded numerous scholarships, including the Newcombe Scholarship, Latorre Endowed Scholars, Robert and Linda Senior Scholarship, and the BC Academic Division Scholarship.
Melendez did not take her time at the College for granted. A McNair Scholar, she was often seen attending events, seminars, and poetry readings. She gained research experience by working side-by-side with faculty and presenting at conferences all over the country.
“The McNair Scholars Program took a chance on me and helped me become ready to face the world,” said Melendez. “The Program gave me the opportunity to visit graduate schools and even to know what it feels like to be on that level. Those workshops were inspiring and I am eternally grateful.”
Her final year at the College she joined the newly-formed theatrical group, The Company @ Bloomfield College.
“What can I say? I learned from the best. The faculty at Bloomfield College are the greatest. They have become like family,” she said, who noted that Dr. Conrad helped her hone her writing skills, Dr. Harris is now like her ‘big sister,’ and that Paula Craig, Dr. Mckenzie-Thomas, Dr. Fralix, Dr. McCook, and Dr. Puccio, all of the Humanities Division, have reinforced her love for literature and thinking outside the box. “Without my professors helping me to see my worth, I would still be lost. I love them dearly. All of these people made Bloomfield College feel like home. Which is something I really needed.”
As she sets her sights on graduate school, Melendez strives to keep climbing upward. She is happy to report she has overcome her PTSD, which took quite a toll on her over the last few years.
“I am acquiring my second degree and not stopping there,” Melendez stated. “I am the first in the family to go to college and I am going all of the way. I am happy to say I am in much better place now.”