Name: Melanie Wilkerson
Class Year: 2015
Minor: Designed- Comparative Ethnic Studies
Hometown: Staten Island, NY
What does your average activities schedule look like in a week?
I have anywhere from 2-3 performances a week, including spoken word and dance. I am the captain of a dance team, a co-captain of MHC’s Conscious Poet’s Society, and I’m also a part of the Native American Student Organization at Amherst so I go and participate at events there. Back at MHC, I’m also a member of the Italian Club and, whenever they have events (which are generally at UMass), I attend those. In sum, the bulk of my off-campus activities is centered around performing spoken-word, but that’s expanding more with dance at UMass.
How did you initially get involved with all of your activities?
I looked for them! I was like, “Wherever the action is, that’s where I want to be.” I joined the dance team that I’m now a captain of because I really wanted to be with a group of people that enjoyed dancing as much I do. Also, I thought “There’s no sorority here (at MHC), so a dance team might be one of the closest thing I’m going to get to a sorority.” Regarding spoken-word, my friend and I founded the org because we wanted to create that creative space for poets that we felt didn’t really exist on campus.
How do you handle all of your commitments?
Sometimes it gets really hard to do that- I’m not gonna lie. Sometimes it makes me feel like I’m overcommitted, and that people always want me to attend things, or host things, or contribute to activities. It’s like I’m a thing that’s in high demand by a lot of people. Sometimes I’ve had to learn how to say “no,” because it gets too overwhelming, but I make it work because I know it’s important to get out there and let people know who I am.
In what ways have your activities impacted your overall college experience, in terms of both positively and negatively?
It’s helped me because it’s allowed me to explore other campuses and meet new people. It’s also helped me tap into a side that’s not so academic, which is what I really have to tap into here on campus and at class. I would say that a negative about all of it is that I have to realize that I’m not Superwoman, and that being able to manage everything comes with careful planning. So, a lot of these activities that I do I need to plan and figure out in advance in order to stay on top of everything and to really show the best presentation of myself. I sometimes feel pressure to do everything and anything I sign up for, which comes with even more pressure since I’m a perfectionist. Everything I do has to be the best, and I’m very competitive with myself, so if it’s not “number one” to me then I’m going to have to figure out how to get there.
What tip you would give to a person who is looking to participate in more off campus activities or clubs?
Don’t be afraid to go off campus and be weird! When you go off campus and you introduce yourself to people, that’s how you begin to network; it literally starts with a “Hey, my name is…” And use that network as much as you can because it actually prepares you for real life, like when looking for a job- knowing how to engage people when you have a goal in mind with them.
Just for fun- if you could be any cereal box character, which would you be?
I’m gonna say the Trix Rabbit, because he’s so friendly and fun, and because I’m biased toward Trix cereal. Also, even though he’s not actually fluffy, rabbits are normally fluffy and I love that- I would be fluffy!