Melissa Mashburn is the associate director of residence life at Mercer University. She graduated from Mercer in 2004 after receiving her BA in communications and theatre arts.
Cluster: What initially attracted you to Mercer?
Mashburn: When I was a junior in high school, I was on the cheerleading squad, and my women’s basketball team was playing in the state championship. We came down and practiced in Porter gym, which is no longer here. It used to be were Porter Patch was. While I was here, I was completely amazed by the campus and how beautiful it was. I had no clue where Mercer was or what Mercer was. After that trip I went back and did some research. I realized how prestigious Mercer was and the academic rigor that was here. I knew this was where I wanted to be. It was the only institution that I applied to, coming out of high school.
C: Why did you choose your major?
M: Honestly, I came in as a pre-med. major. I wanted to major in biology. I took my first chemistry class and realized that I was no longer going to be a doctor. I struggled and realized science was not for me. I spent a few years taking my general education classes and seeing where my interests were. I ended up as a communications and theatre arts major with a minor in education. I have to say that was probably the best choice for me. I love working with people. In my current profession I work with individuals on a daily basis. I was really pleased with the faculty in the communications department. They were so helpful and encouraged us to think outside the box. It wasn’t what I necessarily came in to do, but I know that I made the right decision.
C: What organizations or clubs were you involved with?
M: I got my start freshman year in Alpha Delta Pi sorority, and I was active all four years. I was also involved with the Judicial Education office out of the dean of students. I served as a student justice, then as an associate chief justice, and then as chief justice. I was an orientation assistant, which are now called peer advisors, for three years. I was involved with Kappa Alpha Epsilon, which is the education honor society. There was also Sigma Gamma Alpha, which was a Greek honor society. I was recruitment chair for Order of Omega as well.
C: What exactly does your job at Mercer entail?
M: I am currently the associate director of residence life. I oversee the daily operations of our residence halls, approximately 1,600 students. I supervise four area coordinators who are masters-level professionals. I indirectly supervise 44 resident assistances and four senior resident assistances. I’m responsible for all of the RA trainings and RA selection. I oversee more of the programming aspects of residence life.
C: What is your favorite Mercer memory?
M: I would have to say homecoming was very different back then. A lot more organizations participated, and it was a lot bigger back then. We actually built floats and had a parade. I was excited to see they brought back the house decorating competition because that was actually one of my favorites. We still had the skit night and things like that. Homecoming was an exciting time at Mercer, even though we didn’t have a football team it was still something everyone wanted to participate in. As a Greek student it was a time when all the Greek organizations came together. NPHC, IFC, and Pan were all excited to participate.
C: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from attending Mercer?
M: Relationships are everything. I was here at Mercer from 2000 to 2004 as a student. I worked in the judicial office and residence life from 2004 to 2005. Then, I went on to graduate school and worked my first professional position. I came back here almost five years ago. Some of the individuals that helped grow me as a student and helped my development were Dr. Pearson, Jeff Takac and Dr. Steve Brown. They really invested their time and energy into me. They believed in me. Coming back here and working with those individuals who helped me grow into the person and professional I am today was very important. Working at Mercer is just really unique. I’ve worked at some other institutions, and we’re really a family here. It just feels like a family. Relationships, networking and making connections with people is so important. I think all of that just stemmed from being here at Mercer.
C: In your opinion, what change has made the biggest impact on Mercer’s campus since you went to school here?
M: Bringing on a football team is going to change the atmosphere, and spirit of the school. I know there have been some structural changes as well as changes in faculty. I know that even with our basketball team that has done so well the past two years, which is very exciting, I think football is just going to take that to another level. It’s going to bring alums back that maybe haven’t been back in years. I think its just going to bring the student body together. I’m definitely looking forward to football this coming year.