2023 Tillman Scholar
Mary Melissa’s passion for service began when she was 15 on a medical trip as a translator in the Dominican Republic. Here her love of nursing was born. During nursing school, her plans drastically changed as she met her husband and dove into the support role of a military spouse. Her career began serving the native population of Alaska at the local native hospital. COVID brought with it travel nurse opportunities and eventually a more permanent job in the pediatric intensive care unit. At this assignment Mary Melissa was finally able to complete the process of becoming a volunteer guardian ad litem and began advocating for local children in foster care through her role in the court system.
In 2022 she was able to take the trip of a lifetime and travel to 25 countries with her husband to work and volunteer. She spent the summer volunteering at a small community hospital in Limuru, Kenya sharing her nursing knowledge and gleaning new skills. She was also able to teach CPR courses to locals throughout rural Colombia. Mary Melissa is ecstatic to be studying to become a nurse practitioner to broaden her scope of practice and advocate to create change for children in the foster care system. Her experience growing up as a foster family, volunteering with this demographic, and taking care of children in the system as a pediatric nurse have all formed an all-encompassing desire to create positive, systemic change for this demographic.