Tell me who you are. What stories do you have to tell? What places are important to you? What are your hopes and dreams?
Students at Emory & Henry College are asked to ponder these questions as participants in Public Policy and Community Service (PPCS) coursework, which focuses on a study of citizenship, community service, religion, public ethics, diversity, public policy, globalization, social justice, and social change.
The Public Policy and Community Service major at Emory & Henry enables students not only to understand change, but to become agents of change.
In a recent interview, Amanda Dye Melniczek, a 2000 graduate of Emory & Henry College, related her educational experiences as a student in the Public Policy and Community Service major, and how the curriculum continues to help her advance in her career.
Carolyn Wilson: What first attracted you to the Public Policy and Community Service program?
Amanda Dye Melniczek: As a first-year student, I was registered for the introductory course to the PPCS major. At that time, I was considering pre-law as a major. The PPCS course offered a unique blend of theory and concepts about public policy, along with the hands-on service learning experience. With the discussion-based courses, I really felt connected to the other students in my classes.
Carolyn Wilson: Describe your educational experience at E&H as a PPCS major.
Amanda Dye Melniczek: I double majored in PPCS and Mass Communications so my service-learning experiences in the PPCS program helped me to combine my skills in feature writing, photography, and event planning with my interest in the Hispanic farm worker population in the surrounding community.
Carolyn Wilson: How did the PPCS program help to shape your beliefs and attitudes while a student at E&H and after graduation?
Amanda Dye Melniczek: The program enhanced my beliefs about helping the community. The PPCS program allows students to integrate their course readings with service-learning opportunities in the local community. This program gives students the critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration skills that employers want from job applicants.
Carolyn Wilson: What did you learn about yourself as a PPCS major?
Amanda Dye Melniczek: I learned how to have a voice in the PPCS program. I had always been introverted and less likely to share my opinions with a group. I learned that taking a risk and sharing yourself with others can build strong relationships both in the classroom and in the community.
Carolyn Wilson: Tell me about your work since graduation with an emphasis on your current work?
Amanda Dye Melniczek: After graduation, I was hired to coordinate Campus Service Programs, a new position at Emory & Henry College’s Appalachian Center for Community Service. Following my one-year position, I attended Radford University and received a master’s degree in communication. I have worked in downtown revitalization, higher education administration and nonprofit management. I worked for more than three years with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Virginia. In this position, I did fundraising, grant writing, event planning, and managed three club sites and 15 staff members. Currently, I am a faculty member in the Department of Communication and Foreign Language at Guilford Technical Community College. I teach a variety of communication courses, along with co-advising the Communication Club. I also work with the Triad Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society assisting with event planning.
Carolyn Wilson: How has the PPCS curriculum at E&H influenced your work today?
Amanda Dye Melniczek: The PPCS major taught me about the importance of not rushing to solve a problem for someone in the community, rather taking time to listen and empower the community to recognize their own abilities for solving problems. I use this skill in my classroom today and give assignments to allow students to think critically and problem-solve on their own.