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New Beginnings

Single mom. Domestic abuse survivor. Grandmother. College graduate.

Success stories are often painted with brush strokes of perfection, triumph, and bliss. They put a spotlight on the individual’s final destination but fail to mention the path they took to get there.

Melissa Williams’ ’16 path was not always well-lit or glamorous. But for the first time in her life, the new Career Specialist for (CSS Workforce New York) Pathways to Employment has a full-time job. More importantly, Melissa is thriving.

“I am so happy to be here,” said Melissa. “I have a full-time job with benefits. This is where I want my future to be.”

Through Pathways to Employment, Melissa works with the Department of Social Services Diversion Program. She helps her clients complete their required work hours and activities.

“We’re trying to help people become independent so they don’t have to rely on the system,” said Melissa. “We are helping the community and the people in it.”

Her desire to help people, especially those who need it most, is rooted in her difficult past. It’s also the reason she chose to major in Human Services at SUNY Corning Community College.

“I chose the Human Services field because of everything I’ve been through in life,” said Melissa, “I just wanted to use those experiences to help people in any way that I could.”

Melissa was 38 years old when she enrolled at SUNY CCC. She was apprehensive to start due to her age but the single mom of two wanted to achieve something for herself and her late father. While earning her degree Melissa worked in the food service department at Horseheads High School, as well as at the safe house she once lived.

“I received a lot of support from the faculty and staff at [SUNY] CCC,” said Melissa. “It took me three years but I did it.”

Melissa graduated with a 3.69 GPA.

“Melissa was always dedicated to her student success,” said Eric Smith, Assistant Professor of Professional Studies at SUNY CCC. “Her plan was to get her degree in human services so that she could help people. She always has others in mind and now she’s in a position to assist those who are in need.”

The Horseheads, N.Y. native now has her own office at Pathways to Employment. She is engaged to her fiancé, Daniel and enjoys spending time with her children, Jude and Amanda. Most of all, Melissa loves being a grandmother to her five-year-old grandson, Jay.

“I am loving every step of my new personal and professional journey,” said Melissa.