Melody Klingenfuss: Communications Extraordinaire



Among the sea of go-getters at Cal State LA, there's Melody Klingenfuss, a third year Golden Eagle with big dreams and a lot of enthusiasm and passion to go with them.  Although only a junior, she's made an impressive mark on campus working with the EcoCAR 3 team, being an active sorority member of Delta Zeta, and even earning recognition as a Best and Brightest scholar of the Millenium Momentum Foundation.  Taking a break from studying for finals, Melody shares a glimpse of her life as one of Cal State LA's constant go-getters.  


What got you interested in Communications?

I became interested in Communications when I realized that individuals communicate in different ways, depending on their culture, preferences, personal likes, childhood, youth, etc. I felt communications would allow me to understand these differences and communicate what I am passionate about in the correct way towards each individual I encounter in my life.


What is your favorite part about Communications?

I love being able to express my opinion about every topic possible and do so in a respectful and building way towards individuals. I love being fearless about public speaking because I know that as long as my voice is heard and I do so ethically and respectfuly, I will make a difference - even the slightest one - in the world around me.



As a communications major, how did you get involved with EcoCAR?

I became involved with EcoCAR when my Department Chair, Dr. Olsen, recommended me for the communications team at EcoCAR. I had the privilege of having Dr. Olsen as my professor in my Honors 110 class, so he knew my capabilities as a student and communicator; when EcoCAR approached him about any recommendations to join the team, he knew I would develop the skills I demonstrated in his classroom through this amazing team.


How long has it been since you joined, and what is your position now?

It has been a year since I joined the team, and my position is communications co-lead. In my position, I am able to work and create common goals for the team. I love contributing new ideas and working together while learning from each other.


What's the most challenging part about working with a team of engineers?

I think the most challenging part about working with a team of engineers is the lack of communication that occurs sometimes because both teams are so busy and preoccupied with their department responsibilities. Working towards a common goal sometimes becomes very difficult when trying to bridge the differences between two disciplines. 


Besides EcoCAR, you've caught the sorority bug since your first year at Cal State LA.  What's it like being part of Delta Zeta?


Being a part of Delta Zeta is such a surreal experience. I would have never imagined so many talented and unique women coming together to work towards something greater than themselves. I love my sisters and I always wear my letters with pride. Delta Zeta is all about growing and learning as an individual and understanding to give graciously of what is yours.



How do your sorority sisters respond to you working with EcoCAR?

Wow... my sisters couldn't be prouder! They really can't believe I'm part of a government sponsored competition where I get to meet and talk to so many brilliant minds. They love that I can connect my discipline with engineering, and when I speak to them about all the engineering knowledge I've acquired thanks to EcoCAR, they feel I should change majors! They are such a huge support when I'm stressed or focused on EcoCAR.


Among your accomplishments, you were selected as one of Millennium Momentum Foundation's Best and Brightest Scholars earlier this year.  Can you tell me a little bit about that?

Yes! I was selected from a pool of over 200 applicants from all over Southern California and universities such as USC, UCLA, Pepperdine, Biola, CSU Dominguez Hills, and Loyola. I was able to apply as an AB540, and was among the 3 chosen CSULA students, all of us were from the Honors College as well! The scholarship allows me to get state of the art training for 6 months about leadership, discipline, and future career goals as an underprivileged student in Los Angeles. I will graduate at City Hall in March once I successfully complete the program. The program has a 94% matriculation rate for employment. Jason Seward, the founder of Millennium Momentum Foundation Inc., who is the one responsible for the scholarship, works tirelessly because he believes in all of our potential.


Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I see myself graduating at USC Annenberg with my Communications Master in Communications. I see myself even employed by GM through EcoCAR and I see myself fighting for immigration rights. Always.


Do you have any advice for those who are pursuing the same dreams that you have?

The advice I have is always remember where you come from. Focus on something that motivates you and pushes you. Whether it's a family picture, a memory, a person who didn't believe in you, or the little road that leads back home, always remember that special thing and fight for it with all your heart.