With a big heart and a full plate of responsibility, Micah Melia just can’t seem to say no when it comes to helping someone in need. A senior at The University of Kansas majoring in Anthropology with a double minor in Psychology and Sociology, Micah has certainly worked her way to making a true difference. She is currently serving as the Executive Director of the Center for Community Outreach (CCO) and has in the past served as a MILK coordinator, Development Director and Jay-Lead Intern for this organization. She also participates in research studies for the University Department of Sociology and Department of Education, is a member of and Ambassador for the University Honors Program, has served as a core member for Alternative Breaks, a member of Mortar Board (an honor society for Seniors at KU, formerly a women’s only society), studied abroad in Cork, Ireland, and is planning on writing an undergraduate research award for the first time! It’s easy to see that Micah believes involvement is an important part of university experience, and that the CCO is a big part of her life. So what exactly does the Executive Director of such an organization do? Micah responds:
“Most of my time right now is all focused on the CCO. The Executive Director works with a Co-director, known as the Managing Director, and the two of us kind of split up our responsibilities when it comes to running the CCO, which functions like a typical non-profit. I do more of the external side of things, so I manage our outreach with campus partners. I worked a lot with them over the summer to plan Super Service Saturday, which was our first big event of the school year. We had 19 sites and brought 540 people out to serve, which was about a 200-person increase from last year. It was really exciting for me to be able to do that and get the opportunity to meet a lot of the community partners. One of the coolest things about my job is that I get to meet a lot of the people from non-profits and see what is happening in Lawrence in a way that I wasn’t able to before. I feel more connected in this position. I also worked with the Managing Director to oversee the programming that our thirteen programs do. It’s really fun to get to help these coordinators figure out exactly what they want to do with their programs. It’s work that you can see is really meaningful. Last year the CCO had an economic impact of about $500,000 through donations and volunteer time served. One of the things that has been really big in its community impact is our internship program, which I’m coordinating this year. In these ways I think the CCO really helps foster community ties.”
Clearly, Micah is more than dedicated to her work with the CCO. It’s evident that she is proud of the work they do, and truly desires to make a difference. So what exactly inclined Micah to dive into the CCO? Micah:
“Kind of by accident, actually. I went to interview for the Jay-Lead intern position for student senate (which they no longer offer) where I could be an intern for one of the Student Senate Executive Staff Members, and the CCO Co-directors are two of the Exec Staff members. I got the Jay-Lead position and did a lot of work as a historiography intern, I scrap booked for the year and then went back and tried to make sense of a lot of the archive material the CCO has. I just got really interested in a lot of the work that the CCO was doing on campus and what it had done in the past and where it could go in the future. That was when I applied, after that year of really enjoying the experience. I applied to be the Development Director and was on the Exec Staff my sophomore year. That was when I really got involved in the regular work the CCO does.”
Micah’s experience with the CCO has made a real impact on her experience here at KU. Originally, Micah reigns from Prairie Village, Kansas, and comes from a long line of fellow Jayhawks in her family. It’s evident that Micah takes pride in herself as a Jayhawk with the amount of work she puts in to make KU the best in can be. So when asked what pushed her in the direction of KU in the first place, she responds:
(Micah & her family)
“I’m a fourth generation KU student, so when I tell the story of how I ended up at KU, my parents always say that I didn’t really have a choice, I was always going to KU. In a sense it was pretty true, there was a lot of family pressure and encouragement to come to KU because it’s been loved by a lot of people in my family. So it was always on my list, but I always loved KU. The atmosphere at KU always felt really at home because I came here as a kid, growing up only being forty-five minutes away. I also just really liked my interactions with students while I visited in a way that I didn’t really get anywhere else. I felt like I fit more here than anywhere else. There was also a lot more flexibility being here than anywhere else because not only would I not graduate with over a hundred thousand dollars worth of debt, but it wasn’t as far from home if I ever needed anything. My brother is also now here, so it’s become something I can really share with my family.”
Nothing makes a fellow Jayhawk burst with pride more than hearing that KU makes potential students feel at home. Micah chose KU for this very reason, not to mention it was continuing a family legacy. Micah has truly made the most of every second at The University of Kansas, and strongly encourages future and current students to do the same. Go out, get involved, and just go to a meeting. Micah is a prime example of how throwing yourself into an activity can change your whole university experience. Watch out, world, because Micah Melia is a Jayhawk out to make a difference!