Melissa Kegler

My hometown when I was a student was

Holt, Mich.

I graduated in


I studied

Business Administration and Applied Cultural Anthropology.

I currently live in

Seattle, Wa.

I am now

a consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Since graduating from Alma

Following my internship with Merrill Lynch that I took while at Alma, I moved to the Washington DC area to work full-time as a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).  Recently, I have transferred to Seattle, WA to PwC’s Pacific Northwest Risk Assurance practice.  Throughout my career, I have primarily focused on providing IT security consulting services to federal and commercial clients, in order to improve the IT security controls and posture of the organization.  My team has developed IT remediation programs that have been rolled out across multiple agencies, which have been successful in increasing resource efficiency and improving consistency of IT security practices.  What I enjoy the most is being able to identify issues and figuring out a way to resolve the issue for the good of the organization.  Sometimes the solution is straight forward and other times it takes a lot of brainstorming, team work, and out-of-the-box thinking.  Overall, the personal satisfaction of knowing my contribution helps the people and the infrastructure our nation relies on makes every day on the job worth it.

Additionally, after having been a member of the Alma College Swimming and Diving Team, I continued with open water swimming.  I swam my first race as the swimming leg of a team triathlon in Florida.  I had never competed in open water before and after my first race, I knew I had to try it again.  My second was a mile at Virginia Beach, my first ocean race, I loved it, and have kept up with it from there.  So far, I have swam in events all across the country, my favorite being the 1.5 mile swim from Alcatraz.  Every race is challenging depending on the water conditions and currents, which makes every race its own race that can’t really me compared to others.  My goal is to swim in all 50 states with my next big race being an 8-mile event supporting the Wounded Warriors Fund.

My Alma education

My education at Alma has, without a doubt, contributed to where I am today.  I remember my first interview for Alma’s Early Decision Program, when the following question came up: What is the most important world event that has impacted you?  I had no clue how to answer as I only remembered that there was a tomato shortage, so Wendy’s had put a sign by the ordering window that their sandwiches would not have tomatoes.  Knowing that was a terrible answer, I followed-up with what I felt my purpose was in pursing an education at Alma.  Being a liberal arts college, I felt it would expose me to many different things that I was not currently familiar with, such as world events, other cultures, sports, and educational experiences.

Using all the different people and experiences Alma had exposed me to in conjunction with my education in Business and Cultural Anthropology, I have been able to create a career in which I am recognized for my unique compassion for people and their needs.  I have developed a brand in the business world that is not common, that has given me opportunities to connect with my clients, travel, and pursue my career path the way I want to pursue it.  Recently, I have provided consulting services to commercial organizations who have international extensions and contracting organizations.  The goal is to develop a global service delivery model for audit controls testing.  With many of our counterparts being in areas of the world that have different cultures, do not celebrate the same holidays, and have different business customs that we do in the United States, I was able to use my anthropology education to promote a positive business relationship with the group.  We are going to start our pilot program in the coming months, which is going to be amazing to see our vision grow from an idea into a proof-of-concept operation.

My favorite place(s) on campus included

The Rec Center. While I was at Alma, I worked at the Rec Center and got to meet so many different people from the college as well as from the community. You got to know people on a first-name basis and help people reach a fitness goal or watch families spending time together. I made some of my best friends while working at the Rec Center.

My favorite professors(s) included

I will have to pick two for this one, Professor Lemmon and Dr. Freund.  Professor Lemmon came to Alma part way through my four years and made an immediate impact and lasting impression.  He was a Professor for one of my business classes and right away I knew that his teaching style meshed perfectly with my learning style.  His real-world examples, while valuable in class, were even more valuable after I graduated.  I was able to reflect on what he taught in class, how it applied to my career, and was able to use what he taught to make tough decisions.  He also helped me to think aloud, become comfortable with speaking in public, and be more confident in myself.  He pushed students to think critically and always accepted ideas that were not in the norm.  He was a great professor and is an excellent mentor.

I met Dr. Freund in my Intro to Anthropology class I took as a distributive requirement and was immediately captivated by the subject on anthropology!  At this time I was not planning to major in Anthropology, but after taking the intro class, I decided to take another one, and then another, which turned into something I knew I loved.  The issue, Alma did not have an Anthropology major.  I was very fortunate to have Dr. Freund introduce me to the idea of a Program of Emphasis.  Between working with Dr. Freund and my advisor, Professor Baleja, I was able to take extra courses and major in a subject, Applied Cultural Anthropology, which has become a lifelong passion.

Both Professor Lemmon and Dr. Freund have undoubtedly had the most impact on my student life as well as my life outside of Alma.  I know for sure that I would not have had the successful career I do today without their inspiration.  Their dedication to teaching, students, and helping to make people the best they can is what makes them my favorite professors as well as people I am lucky enough to have as friends.

My most vivid/best memory of my time at Alma is

Haha, I have to say Joe’s!  I couldn’t get enough of their grilled chicken sandwich!  When I was working at the Rec Center, I would often pick up extra shifts.  My friend Matt, who I often worked with, would trade off with me on who went to get the chicken sandwiches for lunch or dinner.  Every single time I ate one, mmmmm, it was perfect, plain and simple!

My off-campus study experience(s) included

a Spring Term trip to France my freshman year with Professor Arnold.  We went to Paris to study French and explore the city and country side.  This was my first time traveling abroad and it was eye-opening.  I really enjoyed the French classes in Paris because they were from people all around the world, including Turkey, Brazil, and Japan just to name a few.  It was really neat to see that the French language brought all of us together.  I think as Americans, we tend to assume everywhere we go people speak English, which is not the case by far.  Being able to communicate, connect, and build friendships through the French language was a great experience.

My favorite memory, other than eating the chocolate filled croissants, was visiting Monet’s Gardens with Professor Arnold and my other classmates from Alma who went on the trip.  There were flowers, colors, and scents everywhere, truly unlike anything I had seen before.  It was breathtaking and beautiful, a gorgeous sunny day, perfect in every way.  To this day I can still see the flowers!