As a member of the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics’ Class of 2022, Melanie Ritter, a finance and management information systems double major from Darnestown, Maryland, has not had the typical student experience at UD due to the coronavirus pandemic. Ritter, and her entire class, have shown incredible resilience, maturity and spirit while adjusting to the many unexpected changes that they have encountered as students. Each installment of this series will profile an outstanding member of this class, showcasing their achievements, experiences at UD and what it means to be a Blue Hen.
Ritter was nominated for this series by UD Associate Professor of Economics Juliana Butler, who said, “Melanie was a dedicated student leader of the Economics Club for almost her entire college career, holding the positions of Secretary, VP and President. Her continuous involvement and dedication is especially impressive given that 1.5 years were online due to the pandemic. Melanie planned numerous events for the club over the past four years and was instrumental in keeping operations going during the virtual semesters. Recently, she helped to transition the new leadership team to ensure continuity. Melanie is also an excellent and well-rounded student. I wish her the best of luck in all future endeavors!”
In this profile, Ritter shared her favorite UD memories, how she has changed during her time at UD and her plans following graduation.
Lerner: How have you grown from your freshman year at UD to now?
Ritter: When I started at UD, I was quite hesitant to ask for help and explore my interests. Luckily, coffee chats and club meetings introduced me to fellow Blue Hens who encouraged me to try new activities. I learned the dos and don’ts of college life and felt motivated to become as involved as possible. I started attending office hours, keeping a paper agenda and working out at the Lil’ Bob. These habits helped me maintain balance and cultivate success through my time at UD. Even when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted life, sticking to a routine helped me stay positive. The last few years have shown me the world can change at a moment’s notice. I have learned the importance of living “in the moment”, pivoting when necessary and embracing every opportunity- even when the opportunity becomes another disappointing cancellation, such as my winter study abroad trip to Italy.
Lerner: Were you involved in any extracurricular activities? If so, how did they shape your experience at UD?
Ritter: My involvement in the Blue Hen Economics Club, Lerner Student Advisory Board and Greek life have most notably shaped my experience at UD. I met some of my closest friends through these organizations. More specifically, the leadership experiences I pursued in the Blue Hen Economics Club (BHEC) taught me to organize successful events, grow club membership and boost morale even in virtual semesters. Dr. Butler provided significant guidance and invaluable feedback as both advisor and role model. BHEC expanded my network and introduced me to a variety of career paths. The people I met in this organization have been instrumental in my college experience.
Additionally, my involvement in the Lerner Student Advisory Board has given me the opportunity to provide feedback from a student’s perspective, for an interactive learning environment. Finally, my sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, has fostered a wonderful social experience by introducing me to my best friends and roommates. These groups changed my college experience for the better!
Lerner: What does being a “Lifelong Lerner” mean to you?
Ritter: To me, being a Lifelong Lerner means staying connected to my Lerner roots, while being open to new opportunities. Lerner faculty have provided excellent guidance and wisdom to lay a foundation for success. I am grateful for the opportunities this program has provided. I plan to “pay it forward” as an active alumna through UD’s regional and mentoring groups.
Lerner: What was the most memorable course that you took at Lerner?
Ritter: Executive Presentations and Problem Solving (HOSP230) with Professor Andrus was definitely the most memorable course I took. Preparing speeches about business topics and presenting to a classroom full of students was so intimidating! Although challenging, the course forced me to ignore my vulnerabilities and proceed with my speech. By the end of the semester, participants knew each other’s life stories and interests. The public speaking and communication skills I learned have been immensely helpful in professional, personal and academic settings.
Lerner: What was your favorite UD experience?
Ritter: My favorite UD experience was the haunted ghost tour this past fall. UD alum, Scott Mason, guided students through campus and recounted spooky stories about each destination. Ghosts haunted every building. I felt immersed, laughing with my closest friends as we connected to a mysterious past. The evening concluded with a costume contest, glow sticks and ice cream sundaes, creating a perfect trifecta.
Lerner: What are your plans following graduation?
Ritter: I plan to join a group tour of Italy and the Greek Islands through July, pending eased travel restrictions. Then, I will be starting full-time as an analyst with Deloitte Consulting GPS in Arlington, Virginia.