Melinda entered Messiah College as a psychology major, but it did not take long for her to realize that the field was not right for her. Answering her other interests, she tried out English next and found it a perfect fit.
Many of the skills that Melinda developed while studying English have served her well in the field of law. "English gives you the ability to write," she explains, "[It] teaches you the practice of reading and analyzing material. Class discussions lead to how to structure arguments." Melinda finds that she utilizes these skills continually. "I write all the time," she says of her job. "I'm always reading transcripts, putting it all together, writing the end of the story."
Melinda did not graduate with aspirations of law school. She worked as a high school English teacher for some time before feeling the desire for a career change. At this pivotal moment in her vocational journey, Melinda remembered her experiences at Messiah and the advice given to her by her professors. Many had suggested that she would excel in the field of law, particularly Paul Nisly of the English department, who had noted her analytical responses to class exercises. Melinda decided to pursue this assessment of her talents and went to law school, after which she interned as a legal aid and clerked at a private practice. After progressing to trial law practice, Melinda then became an Administrative Judge for the State of Pennsylvania, where she continues to make a positive impact on many peoples' lives.
• "Take the time to sit down with someone, talk, take some tests, decide what you love to do."
• "Don't do what people tell you to do, but what you love."
• "Don't worry about just finding a job that's economical, but always make sure that you enjoy it."
Melinda flourishes in the administrative environment thanks to her writing, analyzing, and organizing skills. Her work includes presiding over administrative hearings, writing decisions, conducting seminars for the insurance industry, reviewing requests for hearings, and publishing digests containing summaries of case decisions.
"I had a sense that it was always going to be intellectually stimulating," Melinda says of her decision to work in law. But the real thing that keeps her passion centered on her vocation is the constant opportunity for service. "There are so many different ways to impact people's lives, . . . to help others," she asserts.
As an administrative judge, Melinda listens to people whose stories are rarely heard. "By helping people feel like they've been treated fairly," Melinda explains, "I'm making a difference in a positive way in every situation. When someone thinks they won't win [their case], they still thank me for listening." Outside of her job, Melinda also volunteers for the Lancaster Area Victim Mediation Program. In this role, she works with adjudicated youth until they are ready to meet and make peace with those who have been impacted by their crimes.
Profile by Angela Kriebel, 2005