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Saint Mary’s valedictorian Melissa Henry shares academic advice

| Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Editor‘s note: This is the third of a five-part series profiling the valedictorians of Saint Mary‘s class of 2018.

Melissa Henry is one of Saint Mary’s five valedictorians this year. Although she worked hard to achieve this standing, her focus over the course of her four years at the College was to get involved and form relationships with all those in the Saint Mary’s community.

Henry, who will pursue a doctorate of audiology at Vanderbilt University after graduating, said she hopes to use hearing technology to work with clients who are in varying stages of life.

“I went into audiology because of hearing technology and so I hope to be doing hearing and cochlear implants with a lifespan,” she said. “I’ve worked at the convent the past four years with the sisters but I’ve also been in the pre-school setting, so I love people of all ages and would like to work with a lifespan of people.”

Henry said she first learned about Saint Mary’s from her mother, who had fallen in love with the beauty of the campus.

“I did a tour in November and then I ended up coming back to observe [professor] Susan Latham’s class and just by sitting in the classroom I knew that this is where I wanted to be,” she said.

Henry has majors in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) and Psychology. As the only audiology student in her graduating class, she said she has been busy performing hearing evaluations and gaining the hands-on experiences other students usually do not get until graduate school.

“I am doing an independent study with Dr. [Rhonda] Tomenko, so I see two clients per week and I perform hearing evaluations,” she said. “That’s been great because I’ll go to graduate school with so many hours of experience.”

Henry said she did not realize she could be a potential candidate for valedictorian until her sophomore year.

“With freshman year, everyone comes in just trying to get through it,” she said. “I got all A’s those first two semesters and I didn’t think much of it. And then fall semester of my sophomore year, I sat down with my advisor who looked at my transcript and said that I could be valedictorian — and I said, yeah, right. But ever since she mentioned that, it was a possibility for me. I was going to try for it, but it wasn’t the be-all-end-all for me.”

The hardest part of a Saint Mary’s education is wanting to embrace all the opportunities the school has to offer, Henry said.

“The most difficult part is wanting to be involved in everything,” she said. “Saint Mary’s students are so involved. It’s probably because of the small campus, but, there’s times where I’ve realized you can’t do it all and it’s kind of sad that there’s only twenty-four hours in a day. You have to make choices about what to be involved in.”

However, Henry said students should try to get involved in as much as they can during their four years.  

“Getting involved is such an important part of becoming a part of the Saint Mary’s community,” she said. “It allows you to form relationships with all sorts of people.”

Henry said she will miss the students, faculty and staff who make up the Saint Mary’s community.

“The campus is beautiful but without the people we just wouldn’t have what we have here,” she said. “I love meeting new people and I love that I can just walk around campus and see plenty of people I know.”

Diligent attendance and reaching out to professors are the keys to becoming a successful student, Henry said.

“Up until this year, I have never missed a college class,” she said. “Some people call me crazy, but honestly, there were times when my grade was on the brink but it was the attendance, the participation that helped. As well, taking advantage of that professors has to offer you in terms of resources, assistance and guidance is really how I got to where I am.”   

Saint Mary’s encourages leadership and inspires confidence for all those who consider the College to be their home, Henry said.

“Saint Mary’s has given me the confidence to go for what I want,” she said. “The College has allowed me to realize my potential as a leader. I’ve had a lot of professors who have expressed their belief that I will be successful and that support will propel me forward, knowing that these amazing people feel that I have this great potential.”

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About Gina Twardosz

Gina Twardosz is a senior English Writing and Communication Studies double major at Saint Mary's College. She's the co-editor of the Investigative Unit, a Saint Mary's social media liaison, and she occasionally writes for SMC News and Scene. Gina is a tried and true Midwesterner and yes, she does say "ope" often.

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