melinda-wollitz

Melinda Wollitz
Board Member

I was born and raised in upstate New York, in a family of nine.  My dad worked blue-collar and my mom stayed home to raise kids.  We were not discouraged from attending college, my parents’ mantra was “if you want to go to college, go ahead, but we cannot help you.”  I think they were overwhelmed with parenting seven kids in less than nine 

years, no twins, and my dad working three jobs.  My dad was actually skeptical that his daughters would even use their college educations, yet all five of us have worked our whole lives full-time and four have college degrees!

I was influenced by my oldest sister to attend college, she had chosen a private school and was working her way through.  I figured I could, too.  We were “first generation” college before it was vogue!  Luckily, we both received good financial aid packages, which meant we only had to work summers, and we also got away with no loans. I ended up teaching elementary school, going on to secure my Master’s degree in Special Education.

I have been married 28 years and have two sons who have also completed their college degrees.  My goal was to save enough money to get them through college without loans, and I have.  However, I have great empathy for students who are not so lucky to have such financial support.  Being on the WHSR board is my way of “paying it forward”.  I so enjoy hearing the stories of students who have worked hard to earn their degrees and make it  out of the vicious cycle of poverty.  If working on the WHSR board will help even one student accomplish that, then it is all worth it to me.