Melissa Sutton

In the late ‘90s, with her final semester at Russell Sage College approaching, Melissa Miorin Sutton began working in telecommunications and dating the man she would marry. She put her bachelor’s degree studies on pause. 

Fast forward 25 years. Melissa — who stepped out of the paid workforce to raise her kids, now an eighth-grader, a high school senior and a college sophomore — is eager to return to the workforce.

She just earned her real estate license and started training with Coldwell Banker. She also returned to Sage in January to complete her bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a business and communications focus, which she’ll receive this spring with the Class of 2023. 

“I’m super happy about it,” she said, “and super happy to be back at my roots.”

Melissa was originally drawn to Sage for its small size, and its visual arts and communications programs. 

When she decided to return to college, her first instinct was to enroll in a fully online college. That’s what she did, but she missed the personal attention she knew was part of Sage’s culture. 

So she reached out to Dan Hulseapple in Sage’s Office of Admission, still hoping to attend remotely.

“He was like, ‘Let’s see what we can do for you. Let’s see what you need to get this degree,” Melissa said. It wasn’t long before he got back to her with the answer: two classes. 

“Two classes! I was so happy,” continued Melissa, “Then he said, ‘What do you think about going to a class in person? One of the classes you’ll have to take is in person.’”

“I wasn’t petrified to go to back to school, just to go back on campus,” said Melissa, “but I’m like, all right, I can do this.”

That in-person class is Innovating to Impact, a signature class in Sage’s general education program that examines complex issues through an interdisciplinary lens and a service learning project.

“And I love it!” said Melissa. “I look forward to it. It is awesome.”

Melissa’s group is collaborating on a fundraiser for a local youth center, while also learning how to stand out to employers. 

“They have guest speakers come in from Career Planning,” she said. “We work on resumes. We work on cover letters.”

Melissa said her younger classmates have been welcoming; they’ve helped her learn LinkedIn and Handshake (an online platform for jobs and internships). Meanwhile, she has helped them learn how to reach out to their wider network of contacts, both for job leads and assistance with their youth center fundraiser. 

For her second class — an independent study with Professor Kevin Fletcher — Melissa is researching how the sustainability movement shapes business decisions in the home design and furnishing industry. It’s a perfect match for her interest in real estate and construction.

“Now maybe I’ll go back for my master’s,” said Melissa, adding advice for others who are considering returning to college to complete their education. “Just do it. You’re worth it. And don’t be afraid to go in person.”

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