Everyone has the potential to make a difference, and Melissa Hill wants to encourage that aptitude in others. She takes great enjoyment out of helping others in small ways, like energizing them with an idea or comforting them with a personal story or being there to talk when someone needs an ear.
“I hope that because I do these things that others will feel inspired to also carry this on, that they will help a stranger out altruistically,” she says.
Melissa credits Georgina Hickey, associate professor of history, with teaching her that leadership is not necessarily the typical aspects that one thinks a leader to be. “There is a spectrum of leadership and everyone has their own style,” she says.
When she was co-president of UM-Dearborn’s Women in Learning and Leadership (WILL), Melissa used her abilities as an effective organizer, listener and problem solver. Whether it was helping with the group’s films series or nuturing the camaraderie of the group, Melissa thrived on being a team player. She also witnessed other WILL members grow into their own leadership styles—a rewarding experience for Melissa.
Her Women’s and Gender Studies undergraduate thesis, Feminist Politics of Craft in a Contemporary Community, explored the connections between feminism, craft, economics, urban design and community building. “Crafting allows many to break from restrictions of mass manufacturing perfection and use expression to legitimize identities,” she says. Melissa presented her thesis at the Meeting of the Minds conference and at the Art of Gender of Everyday Life conference.
IN MY OWN WORDS
"UM-Dearborn's Academic Service Learning courses enabled me to make connections between theory, national issues and the challenges that our community faces. These courses allowed me to synthesize concepts that I had learned in other interdisciplinary courses and apply them to projects with nonprofits in the region. Through this direct engagement, I was able to understand the interconnected way our community functions and the significance of collective social change."