When Melissa Rixon entered Johnson State, she registered as a music major and planned on becoming a professional violist. But a lot can change when you find out what you’re truly meant for.
As she walked to register for classes her third semester, she suddenly had a strong urge to switch her major. She hasn’t looked back.
“I’ve been totally satisfied and happy ever since, all the way through the initial wellness courses, especially the lecture courses,” Melissa explains. “I found naturopathy through that exploration. It really clicked with me. The principles of naturopathy are the principles I live by. The best kind of medicine is preventative medicine, so taking care of yourself from the start is the way to stay healthy.”
Melissa appreciated the interdisciplinary approach of the Wellness and Alternative Medicine (WAM) Program and believes it’s giving her a solid foundation for graduate school.
“Naturopathy graduate programs are essentially medical school programs, so you have to have pre-med classes in order to do such a program,” she says.
With WAM, Melissa has taken courses that focus on alternative medicine, such as homeopathy and Chinese medicine and Introduction to Naturopathy, in addition to Western biology classes, microbiology and pharmacology.
“The WAM degree is great in that I can do both: meet my science prerequisites without compromising on alternative medicine.”
Likewise, professors across JSC’s scientific spectrum have been pleased with Melissa.
“She’s really great to work with,” says Susan Green, WAM’s program director. “She has such an interesting perspective and isn’t attached to preaching any one idea to you. She’s excited that you have a passion, and she’s excited to help you achieve that.”
And science faculty such as John Pellerin (chemistry) and Hans Haverkamp (allied health sciences) have both given Melissa the balance she seeks in health and medicine.
“It’s great to have both perspectives,” she notes. “I think that’s something that’s pretty unique to the WAM program. I can have the best of both worlds and still graduate in four years.”
Even with the intensive studying that comes with a WAM major, Melissa still finds time to get involved on campus. She’s a resident assistant in Martinetti Hall, director of public relations for the Student Government Association, a peer tutor for students taking science classes, and a member of the campuswide committee that selects a common book each year for the first-year student experience. In the past, she served as president of Green Solutions, a JSC environmental club.
Just a typical day in the life. But “typical” doesn’t at all mean “average” at Johnson.
“I can go into President Murphy’s office and say hi to her and chat with her,” Melissa says. “There is that closeness; there isn’t any distance, where you feel you can’t approach people. It’s a casual environment where you get to know everyone involved with the campus community.”