Among Life Changes, Student Finds Stability at College

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

“I was quiet as a freshman. I felt out of place and I just figured because I didn’t blend in well, who would miss me if I left?” This was how Melanie Mitchell felt during her freshman year at SJU. 

Besides being part of a small minority group enrolled in the day school, Mitchell also faced hard times at home. Her parents’ divorce led to the foreclosure of their home, a $30k hold on her SJU student account, and an uncertain future for her and her three younger siblings.

“I was ready to give up. I was tired of suffering for something that I couldn’t control,” says Mitchell. “But I knew if I did, I would be the one left with nothing. I knew I had to stick with it any way that I could.”

She continued her studies at the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP), earning credits while raising enough money to clear her account and return to SJU. Working with Shoshanna Edwards-Alexander, Ph.D., director of multicultural life, and Kim Allen-Stuck, Ph.D., director of student success, Melanie transferred back into the College of Professional and Liberal Studies (CPLS).

Shortly after her return to SJU, Mitchell reinstituted Bridging the Gap, a diversity organization that focuses on making Saint Joseph’s campus climate more welcoming. She is the acting president of the organization that debates controversial issues such as race, LGBT rights, and cultural and ethnic differences.

"After being part of a diversity organization on campus, I have become really outspoken, bold and confident,” says Mitchell. “I have matured so much throughout my time at Saint Joseph’s, and I’ve learned the value of patience and responsibility.”

Mitchell also works at the Devereux Foundation where she helps children with varying intellectual challenges. She enjoys this work because it fulfills her passion for helping people.

She will graduate with a B.S. in Criminal Justice and a minor in Business Administration. Following graduation, Mitchell will work to earn a master’s degree in criminal justice with a focus on behavioral management at SJU. Her goal is to work in the field of criminology and focus on treatment prevention for offenders. 

Mitchell wants to help as many people as possible— especially those with a similar life circumstance to her own. Whether it’s academically or professionally, Mitchell hopes to use her story as inspiration and a road map for others who are walking in her footsteps.

“I want to tell people, ‘this is what I did’ and give them motivation by telling them they can succeed and achieve anything if they stick with it,” says Mitchell. 

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