Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Meet Melissa Brooks
Program Head, 
Paralegal Studies

You are a native Iowan, living on the east coast for the past ten years, what brought you here?  
I was always a small town girl with big city dreams so when the opportunity presented itself to move to the east coast I jumped at it.  After finishing my graduate degree at George Washington University in DC, I worked in Philadelphia and New York City, then moved to Richmond. Richmond is a hub for large law firms and corporations, but is small enough to live comfortably and get to know your neighbors. With the ocean and the mountains just a short car ride away, I'll never leave. 

What do you miss about Iowa? 
I miss seeing the horizon in every direction. Iowa is pretty flat so out on the open road the world feels big and wide with lots of space. You can easily drive for an hour and never see another human being. I also miss the sweet corn; nothing else comes close. 

When you are not working, what do you like to do? 
My family and I love to travel and experience different cultures. We just returned from a month long trip to Vietnam which was the first international trip for my six year old son. I'm also invested in my Church Hill community. I serve on several community boards and my husband and I are also self-professed foodies; we love the food scene in Richmond!

If you won the lottery, what would you do first? 
I think about this all the time since my commute includes several billboard advertising the lottery. I’d give most of the money away. I'd rebuild George Mason Elementary in the East End, I’d bring a state of the art childcare center to Church Hill, and find other ways to give anonymously to change people's lives.

What is the one thing you want others to know about you? 
I'm a classically trained pianist; it's my party trick. My mother made me take piano. I hated it then, the practicing, the recitals, my stern teacher who scolded me for poor posture. Now, I'm grateful I had that discipline and I continue to enjoy the payoff. Music is a mood changer. 

What is the best compliment you have ever received? 
When my son tells me I'm the best mom ever---that's probably the greatest compliment in the world.

Who is your favorite superhero and why?  
Wonder Woman would be a timely choice, but I'll take the unconventional route--my superhero is Anna Julia Haywood Cooper. Cooper was an American author, educator, sociologist, speaker and activist. She was also a woman born into slavery who went on to earn her PhD from the Sorbonne in Paris. Her story is one of resilience and perseverance and in the end she used her own power to pull others up. If that's not the definition of a superhero then I don't know what is.