Distinguished Operating Staff Award
Administrative Assistant, Department of Social Science
Plymouth native/Bruins fan/”Mammy” of four
Kathryn Melanson remembers running around the Plymouth State campus as a kindergartener. “I went to Plymouth Elementary School, in the Speare building,” she explains. “The Green was my playground.”
Melanson has lived in the Plymouth area all of her life, except for her first—and only—year at Champlain College in Burlington, VT. “I liked Burlington, but I didn’t feel like I fit into the traditional college student mold,” she says. After leaving Burlington, she returned to her hometown, and shortly thereafter married and settled down in Holderness.
She started her professional career in banking before embarking on an 11-year stint as a legal secretary. In 1995, Melanson returned to the Plymouth State campus as an administrative assistant in the Department of Social Science, a post she has held ever since. Among her responsibilities are managing the department’s budget and course scheduling. “We have such a large department, so scheduling the courses and finding the right times and the right rooms for everyone can be difficult,” Melanson says. “There’s some creative juggling involved to keep everyone happy.”
Melanson has proven herself to be a capable juggler, both on the job and in her personal life. For four years, she took courses part-time while working full-time and raising her two children. Her hard work paid off when, in 2000, she earned her associate’s degree.
Among her favorite aspects of her position are the people with whom she works. Melanson recalls the time when her department, upon learning that her sister who was living in Florida had been diagnosed with cancer, chipped in and purchased phone cards for her. “They were a great support system,” she said.“They’re really kind, considerate people.”
Losing her sister to cancer was a defining moment in Melanson’s life, one that ultimately inspired her to volunteer for Keeping You, Me, and Memories Alive, a Plymouth-based nonprofit organization that raises funds for people with cancer and their families living in the Plymouth area.“Volunteering started out as a way for me to work through my grief,” says Melanson, who has been president of the organization since 2006. “Now, it’s just part of me.”
Another important part of Melanson is family, including her husband of 27 years, their two children, and their four grandchildren, whom she sees nearly every day. “Being with them is so refreshing,” she says. “We have a lot of fun together.”
When she considers her life and her career thus far, Melanson feels a great sense of satisfaction. She particularly enjoys the fact that she is working on a campus that meant so much to her as a child. “My life has come full circle—I started kindergarten here, and here I am now,” she says. “It was just meant to be.”