Off for another exciting day at the dentist’s office. Answering phones. Dealing with squabbling children and equally immature adults. Filing mounds of paperwork. This sounds like the job of a dentist’s receptionist, but it’s really only a small piece of the life of SJU student leader Melissa Akers.
Born in Houston, Texas, Akers first staked her claim at Manhattan’s Richard R. Greene’s High School of Teaching. Before graduating from the top-notch high school, Akers knew she would end up at St. John’s University. The school had two very important qualities about it: location and madness.
“It was not only close to home, but it had a good reputation. I had previous friends that graduated from here and used to visit frequently,” said Akers. “I came during the time when they used to have Midnight Madness in Alumni Hall and I was like, this is the school I want to go to.”
Although St. John’s was not her first choice of schools, it ran a very close second to Florida’s Mary McCleoud Bethune Cookman College. For Akers it was all about the education program, and both schools have pretty good ones.
When Akers finally made it to SJU, her first experience on campus was one of warmth, security and good advice.
“My first experience was attending my first education class and getting an opportunity to have my dean as my professor. We developed a strong bond and up till this day she is my role-model, advisor, counselor and dean.”
People say that first impressions last a lifetime and, in Akers’ case, this is true. The VIPs of SJU, such as Akers’ dean, encouraged her and her classmates to be active on campus. Akers took this advice to heart and hungrily delved in headfirst with enthusiasm and genuine desire.
“She has always stressed the importance of us getting involved, so I did. I became treasurer of the Education Society two months after I started at St. John’s and proceeded to become president the following year,” she said. “Since I was involved in the organization I was able to meet others and expand my talents and gift of giving into other organizations.”
Now a junior, Akers is involved in a host of other activities including the New Student Orientation Program, Alpha Mentoring and Haraya, the Pan-African Students’ Coalition, which is one organization Akers holds close to her heart.
Akers credits her involvement with Haraya to a friend who “recruited” her to join. Since that day, Akers has been impacted by the organization, as well as given the group a touch of her own magic.
“My position as a co-chair for the Community Service Committee would have to be at the top because it gives me the opportunity to meet others that share a common interest,” Akers said. “Also, it gives me the opportunity to serve and give back to the community through all the events that we organize.”
With a little more than a year of undergrad left, Akers hopes to continue to stay close to home after graduation.
“I plan on attending St. John’s for graduate school, hopefully obtaining a Graduate Assistant position. Afterwards I hope to go on to be a director for a College Bound Program.”
Although Akers plans to be a positive force in the world with her post-graduate work, she also feels the need to acknowledge the fact that she is having an equally important effect on the present as well.
“I feel like I have made an impact here at St. John’s,” she said. “As an emerging leader, there are many students that look up to and hold high thoughts for and about me. I have become one to not only be a positive role model but a friend as well.”