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Melanie McCullough

Helping others is priority for English major

By Kristin Letsch

Leadership and interaction epitomize Melanie McCullough's involvement on campus. As a tutor, a resident assistant, and a tour guide, the out-of-state student takes pride in helping others.

"I'm a very social person," she says. "I like talking to people and because I like [Binghamton University] so much, I kind of find outlets where I can rant and brag about it."

McCullough, 20, is an English major from Chelmsford, Mass., who just completed her junior year. While McCullough was still in high school, she applied to six schools in the SUNY system along with universities in her native state.

She was impressed by Binghamton University's reputation, and once her tour of the campus ended, she said to her mother, "I think it's time to go to the bookstore."

McCullough was drawn to the university for a variety of reasons—the opportunities, Harpur College's English program, and the school's overall sense of community.

"I got that good feel when I walked on campus," she says. "I said: 'I could see myself here for four years.'"

Three years later, McCullough has certainly taken advantage of those opportunities. Now a tour guide herself, she shows students around campus—hoping they get that "good feel," too—as well as tells them all of the things they can get involved in. This position allows her to do one of her favorite things: "Rant and brag" about the school.

"I like talking to prospective students and convincing them that this is somewhere they could go," she says.

After being social vice president of Hinman College Council for a year, she is now a resident assistant (RA) in Hinman's Roosevelt Hall. As an RA, she attends weekly meetings, serves as hall government liaison, has duty once a week, plans programs, and oversees 35 residents, along with other responsibilities.

Her job has many benefits, however for McCullough, she simply enjoys the interaction.

"I love my residents, I love making a difference," she says. "I know that they turn to me for personal and academic advice, and establishing solid relationships makes living on the same floor a lot of fun!"

McCullough has formed a close relationship with Al Vos, associate professor of English and faculty master of Hinman. She met Vos the first day she stepped on campus, on her tour. Having taken his Shakespeare course and working with him in Hinman, McCullough knows the professor on both a professional and a personal level and vice versa. As a result, Vos recognizes McCullough's contributions to the community and her potential.

"The amount of work Mel puts into her programs is outstanding," Vos says. "She challenges herself. She's ambitious in the best sense of that word."

Outside of her busy life as an RA, McCullough still finds time to tutor at the Writing Center and in the residence halls. Tutoring six 45-minute sessions a week at the Writing Center for four credits and twice a week in the residence halls, McCullough helps other students with their papers, writing assignments, and whatever else they want to work on.

"The most rewarding thing about [tutoring] is definitely seeing a tutee really 'get it,'" she says. "When I explain something and work it through with them, sometimes it doesn't work, but when it does, it's amazing."

McCullough is most impressed with the opportunities Binghamton and more specifically, Harpur College offers students.

"It gives you the freedom to make your own major," she says, "and it's very flexible so you could do whatever you want with [your major]."

Harpur has enabled McCullough to explore her options and try out different things. Last semester, she took Professor Robert Wilson's "The Sound of American Literature" course.

Her first assignment was to relate a piece of American literature to modern music; she put a scene in William Shakespeare's The Tempest to dubstep music.

This course fulfilled the English major's American Literature requirement, but she says, "This honestly might be my favorite class . . . it's just really cool, and a lot of fun."

For her senior year, McCullough has landed an internship with Binghamton University's Center for Civic Engagement, where she will be doing social media marketing.

Whether she decides to teach English, work in public relations, or go down another road, McCullough is guaranteed to be doing what she loves, helping people.

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Last Updated: 6/19/13