“There is nothing more satisfying than to spend your energy in a way that makes a difference in the lives of others, and I believe that good communication skills are key to initiating and building those meaningful relationships.”
With graduation upon us, we spoke to some of CFA’s talented #LMU20 graduates as they gear up to leave LMU and take on the world. In our We Love Our Grads series, we asked a graduating student from each of our departments to share some words about their time here, as well as their plans for the future.
Melody Forsythe ‘20
Major: Communication Studies
Career Goals: Lawyer and advocate
How did you decide to become a communication studies major?
With an interest in law, a bachelor’s degree in communication studies is a good fit to learn the necessary skill set of argumentation, persuasion, public speaking, critical thinking, rhetorical analysis, and interpersonal communication. These valuable attributes set in motion my knowledge of law, political science, and public policy and affairs. With a communications degree under my belt, I feel equipped to advance through the legal field and my work in public affairs.
Tell us a little about your time at LMU!
Every semester, the bond between myself and LMU was strengthened as a member of Pi Lambada Pi Eta, Tau Sigma, and Alpha Sigma Nu. My involvement in these student groups inspired me to reach out and serve to create opportunities for LMU and students.
My most meaningful service experience began when [former] CFA Associate Dean, Judith Scalin, invited me to come see her on orientation day when I was about to start LMU, and encouraged me to think about what I wanted to achieve here. Once President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Agreement, my dream began to take shape. One where I could combine my work in Energy Upgrade California (EUC) – a statewide energy efficiency initiative – with my desire to bring LMU students to Governor Brown’s Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) in San Francisco. My enthusiasm moved Dean Scalin to take me under her wing. She made some calls and introduced me to Dr. Eric Strauss of Center for Urban Resilience (CURes). My dreams took to the ground running after that exchange.
Working with LMU organizations Green LMU, CURes, and Mediterranean Climate Cities Consortium (MC-4), I was tasked with drafting the proposals and submitting them to Governor Brown’s office. They were accepted! We spent four months planning for the GCAS and two events in co-sponsorship with LMU and EUC, resulting in a feature story in The Loyolan, and recognition at an affiliate event at the GCAS in San Francisco. It was so remarkable to see LMU students experience the GCAS events as student ambassadors. These events brought acknowledgment and awards for sustainability and conservation from Energy Upgrade California for Green LMU’s Ian McKeown, Dr. Eric Strauss (CURes) and Dr. Cristina Tirado (MC-4). Senator Ben Allen and U.S. Representative Ted Lieu’s offices presented the awards at the State of Action event at LMU, and a reception followed.
What are your post-graduation plans?
My goal is to actuate my interest and skills in the legal field into a law degree to better serve the community. There are numerous areas of law that interest me: civil litigation, family law, criminal law, and environmental law would allow me to advocate others in a meaningful way. Legal clinics are full of pro-bono lawyers and paralegals, and The Loyola Innocent project is something I would like to work on. There is nothing more satisfying than to spend your energy in a way that makes a difference in the lives of others, and I believe that good communication skills are key to initiating and building those relationships.
Did you have a particular experience that led you to this path?
As a certificated paralegal, for years I volunteered for the Los Angeles Law Library downtown in a program called “Lawyers in the Library.” The legal aid program brings a diverse community of under-served and marginalized citizens who first need someone to listen and to help with their legal issues. The ability to reach through the clutter and noise of large crowds and listen to one person, intently, is a skill I have learned through my studies as a communication studies major. This skill of listening makes all the difference for legal clients, because when they are heard, they know it and feel it. No matter the socio-economic status of a client and the depth of their legal issues, everyone needs to be heard and respected.
How do you feel you experience at LMU prepared you for this next step?
My time at LMU has provided remarkable experiences and brought new partnerships, created lasting bonds, and taught me how to plan and adjust to the demands of professional coordination with multiple organizations. My experience taught me how to dream, how to work together under pressure, to trust, and how important it is to foster relationships. As a person, I grew because I took the hand of someone who offered theirs, and it made all the difference. I’d particularly like to thank Dean Judith Scalin, who sadly passed away earlier this year, for her leadership and mentorship. She set me on my path of success, and I will never forget her.
What is your favorite thing about LMU?
Surely, my favorite thing about LMU is the relationships I have developed with the communication studies professors who challenged me with rigorous academic projects, and the students whom I struggled alongside to achieve excellence. A special shoutout to Dr. Judy Battaglia, whose inclusivity and love for her students makes a lasting impression, especially upon me; I am so grateful for your care. Thank you, Dr. Stacey Burns, for your expertise and encouragement for my success in the legal field; I am taken by your friendship. Professor Pat Oliver, you are unforgettable and have lit the fire of community in my heart through your passion for activism and striking social justice for the poor; I love our every moment together. Dr. Paige Edley, your brilliance in research and warmth are a steady rock in my life, and you are a great inspiration and comfort to me; thank you immensely. Dr. Kyra Pearson, your gentle demeanor and strong academic drive has inspired me to examine the rhetoric around me and use it in new ways; you are a treasure. Dr. Dean Scheibel, thank you for believing in me; my first publication is accredited to your efforts. Judge Dudley Gray and Judge Eric Taylor, thank you for your high legal writing standards and the terrifying experience of closing arguments; I survived both. Dr. Charmaine Kaimikaua, your pedagogy in method and theory from day one has provided me a solid foundation from which my ideas can flourish in academic strength; aloha and mahalo.
What advice do you have for underclassmen?
Dive; dive deep into every opportunity here at LMU. There will never be another time like this in your life. Push; push yourself through every struggle, sleepless night, and doubt until you rise in success on the other side. Stretch; stretch yourself out of your comfort zone to grow exponentially in ways you cannot imagine today, but will certainly be realized in the future. Reach; reach out and develop meaningful relationship with fellow students and faculty to get every possible good from LMU. Go Lions!