to STEP In the News
Melissa Monsalve ’14
finds a quick route from New London to Washington
September 29, 2014, Washington,
recent College graduate, White House appointee Melissa
Monsalve '14 is one of the youngest employees in the
U.S. Geological Survey.
Not long after receiving her diploma from President Katherine
Bergeron, Melissa Monsalve ’14 is now in Washington,
D.C., receiving memos from President Barack Obama as a special
assistant to the director at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
Monsalve has thrived as one of USGS’s youngest employees.
She is also the first presidential appointee in the bureau,
aside from the bureau’s director.
The position requires a 30-month commitment, during which
Monsalve will work in five separate departments. In her first
rotation, she is working as a point of contact for USGS involvement
in the California droughts and the Urban Waters Federal Partnership,
which revitalizes waterways in populated communities for economic,
social and environmental benefits. She is also helping to
form a federal committee for the New York City portion of
the Urban Waters project, and she is in regular contact with
the Office of Water and Science at the Department of the Interior
on various additional initiatives.
At the political level, Monsalve is attending weekly meetings
of all appointees in the Department of the Interior, participating
in White House briefings and getting involved with the minority
appointee community, specifically Latino political associations.
Monsalve was appointed to the position through The White
House’s college recruitment program. A few weeks before
Commencement last spring, Monsalve was still considering her
post-graduation options when Dorothy Wang, her career adviser
through the College’s four-year career program, invited
her to apply for the position. Wang had been contacted by
Jonathan McBride ’92, assistant to President Barack
Obama and director of presidential personnel, who was looking
for highly qualified College students for the recruitment
program, which seeks college seniors for positions in Washington.
“It all came along very suddenly, but there was no
way I could have turned down an opportunity like this,”
Wang said Monsalve’s unique academic background —
she was a double major in environmental science and sociology,
with a minor in dance — and commitment to community
service made her a great fit for the position. “It was
a no-brainer. This opportunity perfectly aligned with who
Melissa is,” said Wang.
Monsalve says her liberal arts education has prepared her
well for her new role. She credits USGS research data she
collected for her environmental studies classes at the College
with readying her for her current work, and a College-funded
internship in the office of New York state Sen. Jose Peralta
for building political experience.
“The White House is looking for candidates who are
well-rounded in terms of their studies, expertise and interests,”
Monsalve said. “I’m exercising all aspects of
my degree by learning how people are effected by the environmental
science my agency analyzes.”
After she completes her assignment with USGS, Monsalve intends
to apply for a Fulbright fellowship to document issues of
sustainability in South America. She also plans to attend
graduate school to focus on urban studies.
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