Senior Melissa Graham exemplifies leadership through Residence Life, GOLD, athletics

Senior Melissa Graham holds leadership positions in several aspects of campus and community life - she’s a team captain, a resident assistant, a Geneseo Opportunities for Leadership Development mentor, a community advocates ambassador in community engagement and the assistant manager of the Geneseo Farmers Market.

Graham has been captain of the women’s basketball team both her junior and senior years and plays the position of small forward.

“I met the team and the coach and I just fell in love with the program,” she said. “Especially this year, the team is one of the greatest groups of girls I could ever ask to play with.”

Graham has worked as a GOLD leader mentor since her sophomore year. She said she entered the program because the basketball team required her to earn her bronze award. She went on to earn eight of the nine leadership certificates and is one presentation and workshop away from having all nine certificates, earning her the platinum award.

“I think it’s one of the aspects of Geneseo that sets it apart from other schools,” Graham said. “Right now, applying to graduate school and being able to have access to workshops on how to do my applications, how to do the essays - it’s definitely a huge benefit.”

Graham has been an RA since her junior year, serving the Ontario Hall community for three semesters. Next semester she will move to Seneca Hall.

“I wanted to be an RA because, kind of like the GOLD situation, I just wanted to expand my horizons,” Graham said.

She said that being an RA also helped her to develop confidence in her leadership abilities.

“I wanted to grow in other areas of my life - I didn’t think I was the greatest communicator and I wanted to have more of a leadership role to develop my skills,” Graham said.

In summer 2012, Graham took on a $5,000 ambassadorship from the Center for Inquiry, Discovery and Leadership, working with local farmers markets.

Graham said farmers markets sparked her interest because she worked on a farm the summer between her sophomore and junior years, seeking a less conventional job experience.

“I just fell in love with agriculture and the idea of farming. It’s an aspect of life I don’t think a lot of people get to see,” she said.

Graham spent the summer volunteering, working to improve the five farmers markets in the county through incentivizing, advertising and surveying, all made possible through her ambassadorship. Graham continued her efforts as assistant manager of the Geneseo Farmers Market this fall. She is currently examining survey data to create a plan for improvements to next year’s markets.

Graham is also a dedicated student and biology major.

“As much as I wish it was a walk in the park, I think the difficulty of my classes has made me a better student and more interested in my academics because I have to put so much more work into them,” she said.

Graham said that after graduating, she plans to attend graduate school to earn her doctorate degree in epidemiology, the study of the causes and patterns of health conditions in a given population.