Today, Melanie is not only a writer and photographer, but she is also a tutor at Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, Pa. She tutors students in English literature, writing skills, American history, world history, religion courses and S.A.T. (Scholastic Aptitude Test) prep.
"I love sharing what I know about the writing process, as well as the lives of authors, with my students,” Melanie said. “Writing and organizing material is a challenge for many of the students that I work with, so my job is part encourager and part instructional.”
After graduating from Wilson in 1999, Melanie took six years off before attending graduate school to hone her writing skills. "I started to amass publication credits in small literary journals online, as well as in print publications, which I used as part of my grad school application portfolio," Melanie said. She was accepted to Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina, where she earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing with a concentration in poetry.
Over the past 12 years, Melanie has had dozens of pieces published, both poetry and prose. She won the Anne E. Sucher Poetry Prize in 2009, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was a semi-finalist for the 2011 James Applewhite Poetry Prize. Recently, her photographs have been published as well, including in Foliate Oak Literacy Journal and Epiphany Magazine, and in the forthcoming edition of Up the Staircase Quarterly.
"Photography and poetry share a great commonality — and that is a high concentration of imagery in a small space," said Melanie, who got serious about photography five years ago. She does not plan her photography, but instead prefers to find her subjects organically.
Melanie credits her education at Wilson with helping her become a successful professional writer. She formed close bonds with her professors, who always pushed her to be a better writer and encouraged her to publish her first piece.
"All of the classes that I took with Lisa Woolley and Larry Shillock greatly advanced my skills as both a professional and creative writer,” Melanie said. “Most of their advice about editing still stays in my brain while I'm closely revising my own writing or when copy editing other writers.”
She practiced several types of writing and read extensively for her classes. "Wilson's curriculum has a heavy emphasis on writing skills … My pencil was burning up the page the entire time I was at Wilson, which was great practice in the fortitude one needs to be a writer long term," Melanie said. "Wilson encouraged me to read widely and with critical thinking skills — definitely positive attributes for a creative writer.”