In the Light: Melissa Nozell

Tom Wiley

At just eight years old, senior Melissa Nozell knew what she wanted to do in life. She would major in economics and international relations and then go into finance. But then she changed her mind.

“I used to be the person to plan ahead,” Nozell said. “But then I learned that you have to keep an open mind. Look at every opportunity you get.”

Nozell found in her experiences at Colgate that there might be other possibilities out there for her. One of her most meaningful experiences has come with her work for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) a student group that she is currently the lead coordinator for. VITA provides volunteer tax assistance to people in the Madison County.

“I was surprised by what I learned – about community involvement and about the demographic of the Madison County area,” Nozell said. “The questions you ask can get very personal. You have to ask questions like, ‘how many children do you have?’ And then, ‘how many of these children are actually yours?'”

Another moving experience for Nozell came about during her time with Career Services. After spending some time working there, Nozell discovered that there were many careers that might interest her.

“I began to realize that it was most important just to get your foot in the door,” Nozell said. “You can develop as a person by exploring different careers and different options.”

Career Services offered her the perfect opportunity to explore her interests with two fellowships with their office. Her first fellowship brought Nozell to wine country in Tuscany, Italy where she did market research. Nozell drove from vineyard to vineyard looking into the tourist experience at each place. She has also spent time at Warner Music, learning how a major entertainment company crafts their public image and doing work in electronic commerce at Nautica Clothing Company.

Nozell truly began to change her bearings after a study abroad program in India, which was instrumental in showing her a new part of herself.

“India is a nation full of religions,” Nozell said. “You can’t miss it. It is such a sensory experience to be there. You hear the temple music, the call to worship. You see the color of the women’s ceremonial dress. It’s just such a vibrant place to be.”

India proved to be so captivating a place that it enticed Nozell to focus her studies there. At this point, she finds herself open to many possibilities.

“Do what excites you. I now think about many futures for myself. At this point, who knows, I might even keep going with East Asian studies and become, and I almost gasp to say this, a professor.”