This year, Melody Brown Burkins, Senior Director of Research & Strategic Initiatives at the University of Vermont, has joined Allan Weatherwax on the Graduate Alumni Council, while Mark Durand has wrapped up his time on the council. Mark completed his MS in Biology at Dartmouth College in ‘84, and has since remained committed to graduate alumni issues at Dartmouth. The Graduate Studies Office is particularly grateful to those who serve on the council: “I’d like to thank Mark for the work he has done on Dartmouth’s Graduate Alumni Council, and I’m looking forward to working with Melody in the upcoming year!” says Assistant Dean of Recruiting, Jane Seibel.
The Graduate Forum has had the opportunity to interview Melody before, when she was a speaker at a Women in Science event. It was clear then how deeply committed to Dartmouth Melody is, and while this quick Q&A focuses mainly on her involvement in the Graduate Alumni Council, her overall message is very much the same!
The Graduate Forum (TGF): Why is the Alumni Council important to you?
Melody Brown Burkins (MBB): I’m impressed that the Dartmouth Alumni Council works so diligently to both connect alums back to campus and to truly represent the diversity, range, and breadth of Dartmouth’s alumni community. If you explore the Alumni Council website, you’ll see key committees led by former undergraduates, professional school graduates, doctoral students, and medical students – all of whom loved their Dartmouth experience and care deeply about its future.
TGF: What are your overall goals for the Alumni Council?
MBB: My first goal is to learn how I can best serve our Graduate Studies community as their representative on the Alumni Council. This will be a new experience for me and so I will be asking for input from the alumni community as to what folks would like to hear about Council activities and issues facing graduate education and research at Dartmouth. I also hope to work closely with the Graduate Studies office, and the excellent Dartmouth Graduate Forum, to learn how I might best align my service on the Council with their active alumni engagement efforts.
TGF: What is it about Dartmouth that makes you want to continue to offer your time and support?
MBB: Dartmouth simply holds an incredibly special place in my professional and personal life. My own years at Dartmouth, both as a doctoral student and then a visiting assistant professor, were absolutely transformative for me, both personally and professionally, shaping my views about effective research, education, and policy that have guided me (very well, I believe) throughout my career. I also met my wonderful husband of 16+ years at Dartmouth and we have two wonderful sons, one of whom was born at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. So Dartmouth has a special place in my life, and I see service on the Alumni Council as a wonderful way to not only stay connected with the campus myself, but help other graduate students do the same.
My doctoral adviser and mentor, Professor Ross Virginia, remains one of my most trusted advisers and friends. It is not hyperbole to say that my time at Dartmouth—what I learned, what I experienced, and those I met (including my husband!)—still influences me daily. I am honored to have this opportunity to give back to the Dartmouth community and look forward to serving on the Alumni Council.
Thanks Melody, we’re looking forward to working with you!
by T. Sunday