Student Spotlight – Melissa Walters ’14
Major/minor: B.A. in Sociology; B.A. in Music/ Minor in French
Hometown: Lititz, Pa.
Activities: President of the student affiliate branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW); former vice president of the French Club; and active member of the College’s Monteverdi Ensemble, Opera Ensemble, Women's Chorus, Mixed Chorus (former vice president) and Theatre Company. Selected to join the Sociology Honors Society and the French Honors Society, and granted an Alumni Fellows Award.
Future Plans: Plans to attend graduate school for classical voice performance, and hopes to earn a master’s degree or doctorate in social research one day.
Melissa Walters has a busy spring ahead of her, one not likely to be replicated ever again.
Following a summer spent researching her SOAR project, “Faculty and Staff Pay Equity at Moravian College,” Melissa is continuing her work with an independent study this fall in preparation of the Eastern Sociological Association conference in February, where she hopes to present her findings. However, in January, a few weeks before the conference commences, Melissa will also take her turn as Gretel in the Opera Ensemble’s production of Hansel and Gretel by Englebert Humperdinck. Considering the Moravian senior calls music and sociology her two passions, her upcoming calendar only seems fitting.
Working with advisor Virginia Adams O’Connell, associate professor of sociology, Melissa studied the effects of race, gender and age on pay equity among the Moravian faculty and staff to measure the practice of the College’s philosophy of fairness, community and justice. Her research eventually expanded to include faculty and staff perceptions of job satisfaction and workload, which helps provide a well-rounded picture of work experiences at the College.
“The outcome of my study will provide useful information that would allow me to take action in the wider community to end wage discrimination,” she says. “My hope is that further research will shed light on the issues of pay equity and will prompt change for the future of my generation and generations yet to come.”
With the preliminary results from the faculty portion of her project completed, Melissa is currently working to obtain staff data, evaluating responses and ensuring representativeness of her sample populations. She admits there is a lot to be completed, but eventually she anticipates presenting her discoveries with O’Connell to the Office of Academic Affairs and President Bryon Grigsby.
“I was interested in participating in SOAR because I wanted the opportunity to research a topic that is important to me,” she concludes. “The reality of pay inequity is frustrating, especially since recent studies show that pay inequity exists in our communities like the Lehigh Valley.”
While Melissa might soon star in a well-known fairy tale, she’s also grounded in reality, understanding the issues facing today’s workforce.
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