“I’ll never forget my biology professors at CBU: Dr. Mary Ogilvie, Dr. Stan Eisen, Dr. Anna Ross, Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, and Brother Edward Salgado. They are the reason I decided to teach biology every day. They inspired me, and I wanted to be just like them.”

Today, Melissa has over 18 years of experience as a biology professor at Northwest Mississippi Community College and has served as Biology Chair since 2018. Melissa has extensive experience teaching Anatomy and Physiology lectures and labs, Introductory Biology for non-majors, and Biology for majors both in the classroom and online. 

Destined for leadership from the beginning, Melissa graduated as Valedictorian from Southern Baptist Educational Center in Southaven, Mississippi, now known as Northpoint Christian School. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Christian Brothers University in 2001. During her time at CBU, Melissa joined the Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society—a society for students, particularly undergraduates, dedicated to improving the understanding and appreciation of biological study and extending boundaries of human knowledge through scientific research. She earned her Master of Science in Life Science from the University of Maryland, where her primary research focus was neuroanatomy, and conducted her research at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. 

Melissa is currently on an authoring team for Pearson’s Interactive Labs for Nonmajors’ Biology that is releasing in 2022. “I use the biology I learned at CBU in the classes I teach every day at Northwest as the Biology Chair, and in the textbook writing I do as a Pearson author.” Melissa is the lead author of Laboratory Manual for Human Anatomy & Physiology: A Hands-on Approach, published by Pearson in January 2021. Over 35 colleges and universities across the nation have already adopted the book.

Melissa stays focused on ensuring students have the opportunity for a quality education. She invests time advising students interested in pursuing careers in biology and the health professions. As an Early College Instructional Mentor for the Department of Natural Sciences at Northwest, she advises dual enrollment students and also mentors adjunct science instructors. She’s a member of the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society, a professional society for higher education A & P Instructors, and of Mississippi Academy of Sciences, which promotes sharing of information and communication among scientists.

A family member’s experience fueled Melissa’s passion for supporting the Memphis Oral School for the Deaf (MOSD) in Germantown, Tennessee.  “My niece, Olivia, has bilateral cochlear implants and is a proud alumna of MOSD. MOSD has been a huge blessing to our family, and we continue to support them in their mission of empowering deaf children to learn to listen and talk.”

Of the many lessons learned at CBU that have helped her in life, perhaps the most meaningful is the importance of friendship and faith. Melissa is a devoted and active member of LaBelle Haven Baptist Church in Olive Branch, Mississippi, where she finds fellowship and community. From her time at CBU, she found her two best friends. She considers fellow alumnae Debbie Sloan (’00) and Shay Carter (’02) her “greatest supporters and most valued friends.”

At CBU, I made lifelong friendships that I greatly value for their love, support, and loyalty. We studied at CBU together and shared many wonderful memories of our biology courses and a love and admiration for the professors we had there.