Our Stories | Melissa, Class of 2017

"...the truth is I want to do both."

Melissa '17Melissa Rudie, one of the 76 students who will be graduating on Saturday, June 24, 2017, in front of Main Building. She’s from North Salem, Indiana and four years ago she was accepted to all five colleges to which she had applied. “But then I got an email from Antioch and I was interested because of the geothermal plant and the farm and the social justice focus… but I wasn’t sure I should apply because I’d already gotten into 5 other schools!” Still, she came for a campus visit with her family; Associate Dean of Admissions Shane Creepingbear ’08 welcomed them. “Shane showed us everything and it felt very personal; I thought ‘I could feel at home here’ so I applied. I got admitted and I just knew I had to come.”

Melissa is majoring in Biomedical Science and recently presented her senior project research, “Genome Guardians at the Crossroads of Aging and Cancer” at Antioch’s graduating class Colloquia public events on campus. After a thorough literature review and data mining, she uncovered original insights, which she is planning to get published after she performs further statistical analysis.

“I’m really interested in aging and I’m really interested in cancer. So I wondered: Is there any possible connection between the two? Are there genes that are prevalent in cancer which are prevalent in aging as well? I started by looking at the hallmarks of aging and the hallmarks of cancer…” One gene in particular - cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor 2A - she explains, was found to be implicated in both aging and cancer very heavily.  She believes that “knowledge of how these tumor-suppressing genes promote cancer and aging will lead to a better understanding of age-related disease.”

Melissa’s enthusiasm for her field of research is contagious. She credits Antioch for helping her build her scholarship within a framework of social justice. “I was exposed to ideas I wouldn’t have learned about at other colleges: racial and education disparities, housing reform, food, health, sexuality…I really appreciate that the College is trying to make us into people try and create change in the areas we are passionate about. I’m passionate about health, so I want to go out and try to reform health and make it more about the whole body.”

Antioch’s co-op program was a key building block of Melissa’s scholarship at Antioch. Her co-ops allowed her to explore her interest in health in all the meanings of the term, from ecosystem health while she performed research at the Makauwahi Cave in Hawaii to agricultural health working at a farm in Wooster, Ohio.

For her second co-op, she worked simultaneously at an exotic animal clinic and a human hospital: “I spent 3 days at the animal clinic and 2 days at the hospital every week, I went back and forth... I was trying to decide: do I wanna be a vet or do I wanna be a doctor? And the honest truth is I want to be both! See, veterinarians look into human medicine, they study it and try to figure out how we can make animal medicine better. ‘Human’ doctors don’t look at animal medicines, they don’t feel like it’s worth their time! So I feel like if we can make a connection between the two and have them talking we could be getting faster results through collaboration. So, I want to be working on both sides to foster that collaboration.”

Next Fall, Melissa will be attending a Master’s Program at Marian University in Indianapolis, where she is hoping to be admitted to the Medical School after one year. We have no doubt she will succeed.

Melissa’s Antioch Education would not have been possible without donor support and her success this Commencement and beyond is yours to share. Donate to Antioch College to keep supporting current and future students in their Antioch Adventure.