Outstanding graduates: Melissa Marks, class of 2023

Melissa Marks will graduate from McKelvey Engineering with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a stronger sense of self

Danielle Lacey 

This May, Melissa Marks will earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Washington University in St. Louis. While that alone is an impressive accomplishment, what Marks has learned about herself is just as monumental.

“I feel like WashU is an exponential growth space,” Marks said. “I've learned more about myself in these four years than I have in my whole 22 years of existence. This was the place I wanted to grow, and I put myself in this environment to become the version of myself that I am now.”

That version is one who is more confident, thanks to the mentorship and support she’s received from peers and faculty at the McKelvey School of Engineering. For the past two years, Marks has been involved with the Women & Engineering Leadership Society and during the summer of 2022, she began working closely with Christine Dearmont, the director of the Women & Engineering Center.

Through the center, Marks connected with her mentor Maisie Mahoney, who earned a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering in 2016 from McKelvey Engineering. 

“My mentorship has been one of the most rewarding and fulfilling things I’ve gotten out of the Leadership Society,” Marks said. “I didn't realize how much I needed a mentor until I got Maisie. Maisie and I talked about how to balance being who you are while being professional, and I feel so much more confident going into industry.”

After Commencement, Marks will move to New York City to join Nasdaq Inc., where she will spend the next two years taking part in a program for new graduates rotating through the four units of its investment intelligence team. At the end of the two years, she will choose which unit she’d like to join permanently.

“I’m extremely excited because I’m basically getting paid to learn for two more years,” Marks said. “I get to learn and practice finance, which is something I never gave myself the opportunity to explore before.”

And while Marks says she doesn’t feel ready to be a mentor right now, she’s willing and eager to pay it forward to WashU’s women engineers in the future.

“I want to be someone’s Maisie,” she said. “A huge piece of the Women & Engineering Center’s mission is sharing experiences and knowing that you're not alone. I want to be a part of this community until I can’t anymore.”

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