Douglas McKay High School
Early in her undergraduate career at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), Melissa signed up to help a graduate student with research on the endangered California Red-Legged Frog. She enjoyed trudging through ponds in search of tadpoles and began to consider a career in research. To gain more experience, she applied to the University of California’s Leadership Excellence through Advanced Degrees (UC LEADS) undergraduate research program. As a UC LEADS participant, Melissa spent two years working in a biochemistry laboratory. Her project focused on determining the role of a specific gene in coordinating cell growth with cell division in budding yeast, and was published in the Journal of Cell Biology in 2012. During her last year at UCSC, she began to explore teaching as a profession through Cal Teach, a UC program designed to increase the number and retention of new, highly qualified math and science teachers in the state. By the end of her third internship with the program, Melissa was hooked on teaching.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology, Melissa lived in Costa Rica for six months. While there, she conducted habitat restoration and maintenance, and tourist education, at a butterfly conservatory. She returned to the states to attend the Teacher Education Program at Stanford University.
This fitness enthusiast is happiest when she can make time to exercise on a daily basis, especially when she is working towards a goal. Recently, she biked 68 miles in a female-only race and swam from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco in the Escape from Alcatraz swim.
As a KSTF fellow, she looks forward to “developing a community of outstanding educators who are devoted to developing quality teaching practices.”