Name: Melissa Blankenship
Title: Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions
Education Background: BS in Communications, University of North Florida 2007.
UNF Start Date: June, 2007
Years in Admissions: 4.5 years
Why did you choose to go into college admissions? I always say that most don’t pick college admissions – college admissions picks them. This is literally true in my case. I began working in UNF’s One Stop Student Services department immediately following my graduation. After working there for about eight months, I was asked if I would be interested in the Admissions Merit-based Scholarship Coordinator position. How could I turn down the opportunity to get paid to help students fall in love with my alma mater and give them free money?! I took the job without hesitation and haven’t looked back.
What do you like best about working in admissions? It is hard to narrow down. I have a secret passion for public speaking so I always enjoying visiting high schools and giving presentations to both students and parents. Most of all, I love the atmosphere in admissions. Students and parents are nervous and excited and confused, and I get to share in all of those emotions. There really is no better feeling than telling a student “Congratulations, you have been admitted!”
What makes an application essay really stand out for you? The question is more, “What make an applicant stand out for you?” Our application is pretty standard so there aren’t a lot of variations. However, applicants are like snowflakes, no two are alike. Applicants that stand out the most to me are the ones who are both confident and humble. I always tell students that they need to know how to market themselves. They need to be proud of their achievements without being boastful. I also prefer when I am in contact primarily with the student and not the parent. It shows me that the student knows their responsibilities and the parents trust the student to take care of those responsibilities.
What is the funniest thing you’ve overheard or seen while at UNF? Well, it was not really funny at the time but during my first year in admissions, there was a bomb scare on campus. Three or four objects (boxes attached to cellphones via wires, to be exact) suddenly showed up on campus. We had to evacuate the building and the bomb squad was called in to investigate. I know, you are thinking, that is not really funny, but it is. It is funny because the boxes were an art project that a student had been working on. The student’s professor had forgotten to contact UPD to give them a “heads-up” about the project. As soon as the student realized what was going on, he called UPD to explain. What was not funny was the fact that we did not get the rest of the day off work.
What is your favorite place on the UNF campus? The Green. Well, my favorite place is actually the second floor lobby of the Fine Arts Center that overlooks the Green. You never know what you are going to see people doing. Sometimes they are playing soccer, sometimes people are sunbathing, sometimes people are having full-out Dagorhir battles (Google it if you do not know what Dagorhir is). It is the absolute BEST place to people watch, while in the comfort of an air-conditioned building.
If you could join any club or organizations, which one would you join? That is tough, but I would have to say the Surf Club. Being from Oklahoma, I have never surfed but I cannot imagine any downside to joining a surf club.
What song or book or movie makes you think of your college days and why? It would have to be “Where Were You” by Alan Jackson. This song is about the 9/11 attacks. I was in my first semester of college on September 11, 2001. I was actually in class when it happened and I remember sitting in the lobby of the dorms with my classmates and complete strangers watching everything unfold.
What is your “go to” answer when someone asks why he/she should choose UNF? My “go to” answer is “Why wouldn’t you go to UNF?” Just kidding (kind of). My real answer is simple: I went to UNF and loved it. It is small enough that you don’t get lost in the crowd, but large enough to have all of the resources and amenities you need for a great four-year education. The location is great as it is considered an urban school, yet it sits on a nature preserve. It has almost any major you could possibly want. And let’s face it, Ospreys are some pretty awesome birds, who wouldn’t want to be one?!
Give us a piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you began college? Use the resources you have available. I wish I would have utilized services like the career center, study skills and time management workshops, and my academic advisor. I also wish I would have taken advantage of study abroad and research opportunities.