top of page

Dr. Melissa Cook: Networking with Care

By: Tianna Borda and Taylor Carlisle, Red & Black Contributors

Disclaimer: The following article is a student feature from Dr. Berberick’s COM 230 Journalism class.


MAR. 1, 2023 – Dr. Melissa Cook, a Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) professor and Kappa Kappa Gamma alumna, uses her knowledge of networking and care to give her students and others the opportunities she pushed for when she was a young college student.
According to Inside Higher Ed and College Pulse’s 2022 survey, fifty-seven percent of college student participants wished for their professors to introduce them “to people working in the field.”
“[Networking] wasn’t about who you knew, that if you knew somebody important that you’d get a job,” Dr. Cook said. “It was who you knew that trusted you; it’s about references and who can recommend you.”
Dr. Cook’s upbringing in a close-knit family with 12 cousins in Pittsburgh informed her of the power of connection from a very young age, which inspired her to further her networking once she became an adult.

Dr. Melissa Cook came to W&J as an assistant professor in the Communication Arts department in 2016. ( Courtesy W&J College)
Being a first-generation college student at W&J and joining its third sorority when she started college in the late 1980s allowed Dr. Cook to develop her own understanding and connection with a group of women.
“Dr. Cook has impacted me because she has been there for me, she has become an outlet for me, and she is almost like a mom away from my own mom.” - Madeline Heiser’24
“I remember memorizing the Greek alphabet, wanting to fit in… because that was a huge part of our social life,” Dr. Cook said.
During rough times, like when she decided to leave the softball team, she looked to her sorority sisters for support. She said it was having a family away from home. After graduation she kept her connection with the sorority through being the finance and chapter counselor advisor.
Dr. Cook described how she balances being someone you can talk to with being a realistic mentor in students’ successes and their opportunities with future ambitions.
Madeline Heiser, a junior at W&J and Dr. Cook’s advisee in the Communication Arts department, said, “Dr. Cook has impacted me because she has been there for me, she has become an outlet for me, and she is almost like a mom away from my own mom.”
Dr. Cook values seeing her students succeed with her support. Dr. Cook described the time she watched one of her students graduate with their PhD and how “very rewarding” it felt and the “experiences.”
“I never want people to feel awkward, odd, out of place,” Dr. Cook said, “and I will do everything in my power to make you know we are all on the same playing-field.”
“ ‘I never want people to feel awkward, odd, out of place,’ Dr. Cook said, ‘and I will do everything in my power to make you know we are all on the same playing-field.’ ”

39 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page