Becca Melnick, 28
CURRENTLY LIVING IN: New Haven, Conn.
ALMA MATERS: Marblehead High School ’08, James Madison University ’13 (BA), Salem State University ’17 (MA)
JOB: Assistant director of admissions, Yale School of Public Health
FAVORITE FOOD: Sushi, chocolate, blueberries
FAVORITE MUSIC: Country, or anything live
FAVORITE MOVIE: “Pearl Harbor,” which is such a sappy, cheesy, terrible movie but I just love it so much.
FAVORITE TV SHOW: “Parks and Recreation”
FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATION: So many places – Uganda, Costa Rica, Montana
PLACES YOU WANT TO GO TO NEXT: Prague, Vienna, and Budapest
FAVORITE JEWISH PERSON NOT IN YOUR FAMILY: Julian Edelman
FAVORITE JEWISH HOLIDAY: I don’t have just one – I love coming home and being with family, and it feels like being a child again.
WHAT WAS YOUR JEWISH BACKGROUND GROWING UP?
I was born in Connecticut, where there wasn’t a big Jewish community, but being Jewish was always a big part of my family. Then we moved to Marblehead when I was in second grade, and my family has always been pretty involved in the Jewish community there. I went to Hebrew school at Temple Israel/Beth El, I was bat mitzvahed at Temple Beth El, and then I went to Prozdor [the teen learning center at Hebrew College in Newton] all throughout high school. Instead of doing Y2I when I was in high school, I actually did a month-long trip in Israel, and then I decided to take a gap year in Israel between high school and college. I was never super religious – that wasn’t what motivated it – but it was a huge part of my life and development, becoming my own person both religiously and personally, just learning more about the world around me, and what I believed in. I got to travel over the world – we learned about lost Jewish communities, so we went to four different countries: Portugal, Uganda, South Africa, and India.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED AS AN EVENT PLANNER FOR THE YALE SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT?
I always liked event planning, I’ve always been very detail-oriented, and like structure and organization, so that was a common thread through the things I did in school and what I studied. I just had such a positive experience in college that it really influenced me to want to work with other college students. Of course I learned a lot academically, but I feel like I gained a lot more from what I did outside of the classroom, and so I wanted to help facilitate that. I ended up with a temporary position at Yale School of Management. I helped plan the big events, like orientation and commencement, and I worked with all the clubs on their social things: speakers and conferences and everything like that, which was great, and I absolutely loved it – it was the perfect combination of what I wanted to do. They ended up hiring me permanently.
NOW YOU WORK IN GRADUATE ADMISSIONS?
I ended up moving into a job doing admissions at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and was there for a few years, and for about a year now have been doing admissions at the Yale School of Public Health. There’s a big event component to doing admissions. My job is so different depending on the time of year: the fall is a lot of travel and recruiting, so it is a lot of events, because I’m going from back-to-back graduate fairs, and visiting other college campuses, and giving presentations about our school and the program. Then I come back and it is winter, and I read applications for a few months, and make decisions with the admissions committee about who enrolls in the program, and do lots of data analysis.
HOW DO YOU DECIDE ON WHO GETS ADMITTED?
It feels scary that I have a lot of influence over who gets in. I like that we work as a committee, so it’s not all on me. It’s really hard to quantify a lot of the things that we would love to be able to quantify: there are very few things that you can generalize across all applicants. There are so many other personal characteristics that are really hard to tell, so it’s challenging to see the whole picture of someone without being able to interact with them, so I think figuring out how to be fair, and equitable, and understand all the systemic issues that have gotten people to certain places in their lives from the things they’re able to submit to us in challenging. So we try to figure out which other ways we can learn things about people, like resilience, and perseverance, and things like that. I can’t talk too much about our actual process, but there is both staff and faculty influence for sure, because we have different perspectives on what’s going to help a student succeed in the program. Not having had a background in public health, there are certain things that faculty may be able to understand from somebody’s experience that I may not necessarily connect to what they want to be doing, whereas there are other factors that I may have a better idea of.