A storyteller herself, Jeanne Malmgren Melvin worked as a newspaper journalist for two decades. While on assignment in Cambodia in 2000, Melvin fell in love with three orphans, whom she and her husband adopted. The family moved to South Carolina to care for Melvin’s terminally ill father. The journalist, however, found she could no longer practice her craft.
“After a long, fruitless job search, I realized that many years away from a newsroom, combined with my age and the sad state of newspapers in general, meant that I had to find some new way to make a living,” said Melvin.
Due to their years of deprivation, her children also required extensive medical intervention. The youngest needed repeated surgeries for hearing loss. Her oldest suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and required “a small army of psychologists and psychiatrists, plus long-term medication, to address her issues.”
Inspired by her children, Melvin decided to pursue a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. She would like to treat children and veterans suffering from PTSD.
“It’s a challenge, taking classes alongside students half my age, delivering kids to soccer, taking my 94-year-old mother to the doctor, squeezing in late-night writing assignments,” said the 54-year-old. “But I can handle it. There’s something to be said for plunging ahead with blind faith and trusting that your inner strength will be there when you need it most.”
Melvin will use the $1,000 scholarship to cover tuition at Clemson University.
“This scholarship is an amazing gift,” said Melvin, “not only because it will help pay my tuition, but also because I no longer feel so alone in my struggle to help my family.”