Going Through Tragedy and Gaining Opportunity

Published: Thursday, November 10, 2016

When Melinda White ’20 was high school sophomore, her and her family were forced to move from their home in Oxford Hills to Gorham, Maine.

It was a difficult time in White’s life and it was made worse by having to leave during the middle of her high school career.

“Gorham High School is so much larger than Oxford Hills. I felt like I was coming from a completely different world and a completely different background. I felt like I wouldn’t fit in,” she said.

So, White decided to attend the Maine Connections Academy, an online high school. Things started to improve.

During her senior year, she had to complete an internship as part of her graduation requirements. She successfully secured a spot with the Portland Radio Group beginning with receptionist work and moving into the position of Operator on Duty – where she made sure everything in the studio was going smoothly.

After her internship was over in December, her employer liked her so much they hired White back on. In May, she was promoted to reading live news.

White was on duty in June when a story broke about a little boy being attacked by a dog. She and her colleagues recently won Maine Association of Broadcasters Award for their radio coverage of the story.

White still works for the Portland Radio Group during the John McDonald Show on the weekends.

During her second semester of senior year, she also interned with Burgess Advertising and Marketing in Portland writing press releases.

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White says when she was exploring colleges Thomas College wasn’t on her radar at all. Her brother, who lives in Waterville, suggested she check it out.

“So I came and toured. My tour guide was Jasmine Turner ’16. She made me fall in love with the school,” she said. “I came back for six visits before I decided. I had Jasmine every time as my tour guide.”

White says she wanted a small school and to stay in state, so Thomas fit her that way as well.

Now, a freshman at Thomas, White is already very involved. Besides continuing to work with Portland Radio Group at least one weekend a month and interning in the Morning Sentinel’s advertising department, she is part of JMG at Thomas, a student philanthropy team member, leadership academy participant and a TRIO student.

A communications major, White says she has really enjoyed her professor, Bruce Kelsey.

“Kelsey’s perspective is definitely outside of the box. His teaching style is unique for the field,” she said. “He wants to show you different sides of things. We just performed own research. It’s very different than what I expected.”

White says she isn’t sure if she will end up making a career in the journalism or communications field, but she is looking forward to continuing to explore both.

“I love journalism so far, but I can also see myself doing social media or marketing. Working for a fashion magazine would be ideal.”

White says she is thankful for her all of her opportunities and can’t wait to see what comes next.

“To think that if I hadn’t gone through that horrible time in my life, I wouldn’t have experienced living in that area, I wouldn’t have gone to online school, and I wouldn’t have done these things and had these opportunities,” she said. “It’s kind of crazy to think that I had to have a horrifying thing happen to me to get to where I am.”

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