Real Life in the Classroom

Alumni Students

Melissa Shaver is nearing completion of her bachelor’s degree from Gardner-Webb University, in fact she was recently recommended by the faculty for membership in the Gamma Beta Upsilon Chapter of Alpha Sigma Lambda National Honor Society. A successful student, Melissa is studying human services with an emphasis on mental health counseling; she expects to use her talents as a licensed mental health or school counselor.

“I’ve always been an advocate,” explains Shaver. “As far back as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed helping people. That is what drew me to the Human Services Program at MCC. I like the umbrella of opportunities this discipline offers.” Before Gardner-Webb, Shaver studied at MCC for two and a half years, where she was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. The Human Services Program is indeed an umbrella; in addition to numerous psychological and sociological concepts, the components involving mental health, human development and behavior, and early childhood psychology are Shaver’s favorites. Up to this point she has worked with both the elderly and with children and prefers the latter. “Helping children is the most meaningful, rewarding work. Every day you realize you are playing a role in shaping this small person’s future.”

MCC employs many wonderful faculty members, but Melissa Shaver is over-the-top excited about Amy Frieary, MCC’s Dean of Health and Human Services. “She is the reason I’ve gotten to this point,” says Shaver. “She has not only shaped my education and career, but her influence also continues to guide me as a mother.”

During Melissa’s time at MCC, her daughter’s father was a victim of gun violence. The sudden, traumatic loss was devastating, and Shaver recalls having serious apprehension about staying in school. Amy Frieary not only counseled Shaver and kept her in MCC’s Human Services Program, but the cohort of students decided to use Shaver’s situation as real-life practice in their classes. “Coping with trauma and managing through crisis is a very real dilemma for untold numbers of Americans,” explains Shaver. “Amy Frieary counseled me and our class through that time, and I really can’t think of a better way to learn than what we experienced that year.”

Melissa and her daughter still grieve for their family member some years later but have found ways to encourage each other. They share not only a strong family bond, but they are also in similar academic situations as well; Shaver’s daughter is now in her senior year of high school and contemplating her choice of a university. “My background and education in counseling has really defined me as a mom,” explains Shaver. “We help each other. My daughter helps me stay motivated in my career path, and I have learned how to help her develop strong study habits without appearing to be an overbearing mom.”