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DCE Magazine

  • Melody Wang

Summer 2022

Alumni Spotlight: Success With Plenty of Soul

Student Achievement Award winner and Business Administration graduate Melody Wang balances her career at City of Hope by writing poetry and co-hosting a podcast focused on creativity and healing.

“What drew me to UCI and the certificate program was the well-rounded curriculum, which is both challenging and worthwhile in terms of transferable skills that would serve me well in business administration and other areas of my life.” Melody Wang, Business Administration Program Graduate

Melody Wang navigates her life’s journey with the soul of a poet and the mission of a healer. Currently Research Operations Analyst at City of Hope, the DCE alumna followed in the footsteps of her father, who was a research scientist at the iconic Duarte medical center. All the while, she has kept her creative fires burning, as a poet with a published collection “Night-Blooming Cereus” and a new podcast “Create to Heal.”

Melody’s career at City of Hope began immediately after she graduated from UC San Diego, getting her degree a year early so she could move home to be with her father, who had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. “I was grateful to start work at City of Hope where I had interned and where my father had been employed, which was 20 minutes away from where we lived,” she said.

The sensitive and compassionate care Melody’s father received while undergoing cancer treatment inspired her to go back to school. “My dad had been through rounds of surgery, radiation and chemo. During that time, his social worker really made a difference in my dad’s quality of life, especially in those last few months before he lost his battle.” Melody was so moved, she decided to enroll at USC to get a Master’s in Social Work to go with her B.A. in Sociology from UCSD.

Melody’s path eventually led to UCI where she expanded her skillset with a Business Administration certificate, earning a Student Achievement Award along the way. “I felt like I needed a new challenge, especially with the pandemic,” she said. “And I realized that business administration was something I’d love to delve more deeply into. What drew me to UCI and the certificate program was the well-rounded curriculum, which is both challenging and worthwhile in terms of transferable skills that would serve me well in business administration and other areas of my life.”

Melody was kind enough to share her thoughts on her career and academic journey, as well as her creative pursuits.

Tell us about your experience with the program. What skills and knowledge did you acquire?

This was a really stimulating program and I enjoyed every moment of it. The instructors were all knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and supportive. They covered many critical aspects of business administration including finance, marketing, leadership, management, human resources, and process optimization. I particularly enjoyed interacting with the instructors and fellow students in the group projects and discussion boards.

Everyone was respectful and it was encouraging to be in such an interesting space with like-minded people on similar paths. I also appreciated that it was fully online, which allowed me to attend classes and complete homework on nights and weekends. I am fortunate to be at a company that truly supports personal growth and development, and this was one of the recommended programs.

How did it feel to win a Student Achievement Award for your leadership, commitment to learning and other qualities?

I felt very honored and humbled. I was nominated by one of my instructors, Janet Randolph, and I feel like I really benefited from her course modules, feedback on my assignments, and the stimulating discussions with colleagues. My personal favorite courses were Essentials of Management and Leadership and Fundamentals of Digital Marketing for Business and Administrators.

What sort of impact did your certificate have on your career?

I was able to immediately apply the skills I acquired in the program toward my day-to-day job. Shortly after I completed my certificate, I was promoted to Research Operations Analyst within my current department. I’m really enjoying learning different systems and supporting my department in this new capacity.

On a side note, earlier in the year my Business Director and Business Manager nominated me for a City of Hope VIA award in the category of “Service with a Sense of Urgency.” A couple of weeks ago, I got the news that I was selected as an honoree, and it felt really nice to be recognized.

I understand you’ve held many positions at City of Hope.

I’ve worked there for over 12 years, in several departments. Currently I’m working in the department of Cancer Genetics and Epigenetics. I handle the financial operations for our department, preparing, analyzing, and interpreting financial reports for all our budgets and expenses.

Somehow you find time to co-host the “Create to Heal” podcast. Tell us about that.

At the beginning of this year, my friend Patricia Varga and I were just brainstorming about how awesome it would be to have a safe space where we could have conversations from the heart and encourage each other and others in creative endeavors as we embark on our unique journeys of healing. We aim to use this podcast space to cultivate healing, creativity, and interview different guests from all walks of life. We always use poetry and creativity to engage audience participation as well.

What inspired you to write “Night-Blooming Cereus”?

These little poems are dear to me and touch upon themes of loss, trauma, grief — especially after my father’s passing and my own healing process. I have a soft spot in my heart for the night-blooming cereus and its gentle reminder of the brevity and sacredness of life. My mom has a few of these in her backyard garden and has always asked me to stay to watch them unfurl. Last summer was the first and only time I stayed to watch them blossom and it was magical.

How does poetry enrich your life?

Poetry has been an outlet for me from an early age. Each poem gives me something different, whether it is abstract expression, a way to excavate meaning from traumatic experiences in my life, or simply a way to remember and capture a certain moment in time.

It has made me realize that, ultimately, we are all interconnected, and there is value in realizing that one is never truly alone. As the spiritual teacher Ram Dass stated, “We are all just walking each other home.”

Learn more about the Business Administration Certificate Program.