Melissa Markstrom '09
A Focus on
Few people can match the compassion and understanding that Melissa Markstrom displays on a daily basis, and even fewer can maintain this commitment to others while being a full-time student, a resident’s assistant, and the facilitator of an active club. Melissa manages to juggle it all, however, without losing focus on her primary passion: community service.
A junior writing major from Phoenix, Arizona, Melissa’s dedication to serving others started when, urged on by her parents, she joined a civic organization as a youth. Among other things, she volunteered at soup kitchens and at nursing homes to play cards with the elderly. As she continued to grow and work with others, she began to understand these seemingly small acts in the context of the more complex, underlying issues at hand.
“Rather than simply helping those in need, I began to consider why they were needy in the first place, and was then inspired to make the changes they needed,” Melissa commented. “My experiences as a child, then, made me consciously consider what kind of role I wanted to play in my community.”
As a result, Melissa joined AmeriCorps for two years after she graduated from high school in 2002. During her first year, Melissa worked with other young adults on two to eight week hands-on projects in the Washington D.C area. Melissa tutored kids, built houses, and even helped out at an archaeological site. She spent the following year behind the scenes in Phoenix, Arizona, where she organized service-learning projects and helped train volunteers.
It was at an AmeriCorps function where Melissa first heard of GMC and decided it was the “perfect” next step in her life. “It worked out rather well for me,” she smiled. “This is such a unique living experience. There are so many people in this community that are concerned about making a change in the world.”
Melissa also hopes to help organize an AmeriCorps club through which former AmeriCorps students like her can continue to offer their services to the community, share their experiences with those interested in joining AmeriCorps and reach out to prospective students who have been involved in the program. “I’d especially like to help students make a connection between the experiences they’ve had and what they’re interested in education wise,” she said.
Though Melissa is unsure what her next step will be, she is considering either joining the Peace Corps as an English or health teacher or doing the logistical work for scientists in Antarctica.