Former school bus driver Laurie Melonja-Seall transforms her life by pursuing a degree at GGC

Non-traditional student Laurie Melonja-Seall initially visited the Georgia Gwinnett campus on Preview Day in October 2018. She attended with her high school senior son who was considering enrollment as a freshman. 

“I was driving a Gwinnett County school bus at the time,” Melonja-Seall said. “We listened to the professors describe the different professions offered in the School of Business, and I was instantly taken with supply chain management. I actually applied that night and started the following January.”

Among the many GGC qualities that appealed to Melonja-Seall was the fact that the professors carry cell phones versus having traditional office hours and are not tenured so they continue to strive for excellence. She also liked the idea of small class sizes, diversity and acceptance of all students, and not least, the affordability.

“GGC is a great fit for non-traditional students because it offers evening and Saturday classes, and you can easily get in touch with the professors when you have a question or need help,” Melonja-Seall said. “Initially, I was really concerned about fitting in with the student population because I am an older returning student, but there is a good mix of age groups, not to mention ethnicities, so I worried for no reason.”

Melonja-Seall began student life working full-time and taking three classes – two evening and one on Saturdays. She cites several professors with inspiring her student success.

“Dr. Mary Saunders, Principles of Management, helped solidify my confidence in myself that I could not only do this, but I could do it well. Dr. Howard Griffin, Global Business, inspired me to take a chance and do GGC’s May 2019 Study Abroad trip to Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Dr. Sanjaya Mayadunne, Principles of Supply Chain Management, stimulated and cemented my interest in SCM as my business administration concentration.”

In addition to the professors, Melonja-Seall found the staff in the Career Development and Advising Center (CDAC) to be immensely helpful. Ms. Sherrie Goodman, assistant director of CDAC, reviewed her resume and provided her a list of websites that include videos of supply chain professionals talking about their day-to-day experiences and a website that explains how much time to expect to be on the phone or in meetings with this type of job.

“CDAC also helped me when I had a video interview by providing a website available to all GGC students where I could watch the types of questions I might be asked specific to my major and concentration as well as video myself answering practice questions so I could watch it and improve,” Melonja-Seall said. “It’s a valuable tool because they asked supply chain specific questions for which I was able to prepare.”

Melonja-Seall has also taken advantage of the many impactful campus organizations at GGC. The Association for Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA) was among the first groups she joined after attending a speaker series it sponsored. Although she’s not Latino, she connected with ALPFA members and participated in enriching events such as a visit to Deloitte in downtown Atlanta where the “big four” consulting firms were represented – Deloitte, Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and KPMG.

“It was a tremendous opportunity to get insider knowledge on each firm as well as what these firms are looking for in a candidate, on a resume, and in an interview,” she said. “I would never have had this opportunity without GGC and ALPFA, and it overwhelms me to think about how my decision to attend GGC has positively impacted by life.”

Thanks to college credits she received years ago from the University of Pittsburgh, Melonja-Seall plans to graduate in December 2020. Beyond that, her dream is to become a SCM consultant in Gwinnett and travel the world.

“I’d love to continue to be involved with GGC and the School of Business as an alumni, answering questions and helping future GGC students achieve their goals,” she said. “I highly recommend GGC to older adults thinking of returning to school. GGC, the professors and staff have so much to offer, all you have to do is step out of your comfort zone and accept it.”