In this installment of the “Better Know a Dean” series, the Gazette interviews Melissa Mandos, the fellowships and grants advisor for Swat students. Stop by her office in Parrish 118.
I actually came to Swarthmore actually through my husband, Tim Burke, who is a professor here. We moved to the area in 1994, but I only started working at Swarthmore about 3 years ago. I’ve always heard that Swarthmore’s a very nice place to work, a very nice working environment, so I had been keeping my eyes open for a position. We had also recently had a child, and this was a good, easy way to bring work and family closer together.
Before Swarthmore, you were involved in non-profit work?
Yes, for the last 20 or so years before Swarthmore, I had been working in the non-profits sector. I spent 7 years in Philadelphia with the Center for Responsible Funding as well as with the Free Library of Philadelphia. Before that I was in Baltimore for 5 years working with the Citizens’ Planning and Housing Association.
The work I did with those groups, grant writing and procuring funds, is actually very akin to the fellowships and prizes position I hold here.
When should students come to see you? What can you help them do?
We primarily get a lot of seniors coming through the office (the older you get, the more grants are available), but students of any class can come see me at any time. Fall is generally the busy period for many applications, and the office is very focused on meeting one deadline after the other.
Spring is ideal for freshman and sophomores to come visit. It’s almost imperative for juniors to come visit the spring before senior year. We welcome recent alumni as well. The earlier you start planning and identifying grants you might be interested in, the easier the process is.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
Meeting one-on-one with the students. I love getting to know students a little better. I also enjoy reading students’ writing. There are a lot of talented, creative students on campus who have a very distinctive and eloquent style of writing.
How did you first meet your husband?
Well, we met in college. We both attended Wesleyan University and lived on the same hallway throughout. We dated during and got married after graduating.
So, a Quaker Matchbox?
Yes, but I think the only difference is that Wesleyan’s a Methodist school, so Methodist Matchbox.
If you could be any building on campus, which would you be?
The Science Center. It’s a green building; it has the coffee bar, and I’m completely addicted to coffee. I would pick Kohlberg for its bar, but it’s not as new and not as green. So, Science Center. Green and caffeine.
Any last thoughts or words of wisdom?
Plan early. I think I already slipped that in earlier. Every student, particularly in this economy, should check out grant information. Don’t hesitate to come by my office to talk about your plans. You can come in the spring or call and write in the summer. I’d be happy to help.