rachel meller '21

Current Position: 
Research Analyst, Brandwatch  
Current Location:
Philadelphia, PA 
Media and Society, American Studies 

Describe your HWS experience in 140 characters 
HWS blended rigor with growth, sparking introspection - questioning over answers, equipping inquisitiveness to guide me in life.

What were some of the opportunities you took advantage of while at HWS on and off campus?
During my time on campus, I made the most of the Salisbury Center for Career, Professional and Experiential Education's Guaranteed Internship program. This immersive experience not only allowed me to delve headfirst into my chosen field but also paved the way for a seamless transition into post-graduate life. Among the countless opportunities offered by HWS, my standout favorite was undoubtedly the chance to go on a study abroad experience. A semester in Budapest, Hungary, not only enriched my academic journey but also granted me a profound and global perspective on diverse cultures. I still talk about these opportunities all of the time in my day-to-day life – probably a little bit too much!

Was there a particular professor or other HWS mentor who was essential to your path?
Associate Professor of American Studies Elizabeth Belanger and Associate Professor of Media and Society Rebecca Burditt played a pivotal role in shaping my academic journey at the Colleges and beyond. These two exceptional educators went beyond the classroom, offering unwavering support and encouragement that fueled my personal and academic growth. I owe a special thanks to Professor Belanger, who not only served as my First-Year Seminar advisor but also influenced my decision to declare a double major in American Studies, a choice that has significantly impacted my academic trajectory. As I delved into a career within the media industry, my connection with Professor Burditt deepened. This professional path not only allowed me to foster a close relationship with her but also provided numerous opportunities to engage in meaningful discussions about my post-graduate aspirations. These conversations with Professor Burditt not only enriched my understanding of the industry but also added a dynamic and vibrant dimension to my academic and career pursuits.

How did HWS prepare you for your current role and/or your future?
In my sophomore year advising session, Professor Belanger shared some exciting news about a math requirement course tailored for humanities majors. That chat led to the birth of "Storytelling with Data," and I jumped on board for the first offering during my senior year. Throughout the semester, we tracked a trending hashtag, crafting the narrative of online discourse and exploring potential trends.

Funny enough, the skills I honed in that course now perfectly align with my current job! Analyzing and shaping discourse into a cohesive narrative has become a crucial part of my daily tasks for huge brands like Bravo, Adult Swim, and Amazon. 

And I certainly can’t forget "Cultures of Advertising" – those principles have been a huge asset during my first 2.5 years post-grad working in advertising agencies. The practical knowledge from that class seamlessly translated into my professional journey.