Recognizing Former Melrose Scholars
The Department of Media, Film & Journalism Studies has been proud to award a full scholarship each year to four undergraduate students, funded by the Francis A. Melrose Foundation. The award was first established in 2013 and provides a scholarship each year to one first-, second-, third- and fourth-year MFJS student to cover all tuition costs.
The Melrose scholarship fund was established by Frances Melrose, a DU graduate and editor of The Clarion. After graduating in 1943, Frances went on to become a reporter, columnist and travel editor at The Rocky Mountain News for 57 years. She was inducted into the Denver Press Club Hall of Fame in 1998 and passed away in 2011 at the age of 90.
This winter, in recognition of the Melrose Foundation’s pledge to renew the Melrose Scholars program for another four years, we reached out to previous Melrose Scholars to find out where they are now. While all Melrose Scholars are students in the Department of Media, Film & Journalism Studies, these alumni prove that you can use your education to forge your own path and build your own niche in the world.
Position: Manager of transportation operations, Yellowstone National Park
What was your major and why did you choose it? Film studies & production. I was part of our morning broadcast team in high school and loved making short movies, but I had decided to study journalism in college. As I took more classes in the department though, I realized I was really enjoying my film classes. I went into my next advising session with Rod Buxton just to pick classes for the next quarter, but happily walked out with a new major too!
What has been your career path post-college? The storytelling and communication skills I learned in my film classes led me into the field of Interpretation. I've guided visitors all over Yellowstone and the surrounding area, first with Yellowstone's main concessionaire and then for a few years as an interpretive ranger for the National Park Service. I began managing the concessionaires' guides in the winters and then the summers too, and as of this past July I was promoted into a new full-time position as the manager of transportation operations, overseeing and developing all of our interpretive guides, their dispatchers and our tours, and coordinating the use of our fleet of tour buses and vehicles.
What is something you're proud of in your career? I've coached struggling new guides who within a couple of seasons have blossomed into some of our best guides. I'm passionate about helping them to forge connections between the visitors and the resources preserved in our public lands, and I love that I can reach many more people through the work of my team than I ever could as a guide. I may not be involved in film, but I still get to help others find their voice and craft messages about things that they care about.
Do you have any words of wisdom for our current students? Go after the stories that mean something to you. I think the most effective storytellers are people who are passionate about their subject. Don't forget to have fun between all of the hard work and take time to relax too!
Position: Family lawyer, Sherman & Howard LLC
What was your major and why did you choose it? I majored in journalism. I always loved talking to people and telling others their stories.
What has been your career path post-college? After graduating from DU, I went to law school at CU. I practiced civil litigation for a number of years before realizing how much I missed talking to people and telling others their stories! I now practice family law in Denver.
What is something you're proud of in your career? I am proud of the fact that I get to help people navigate some of the hardest times of their lives.
Do you have any words of wisdom for our current students? Take advantage of internships to explore different career paths, because you might end up interested in something that surprises you.
Position: Independent environmental consultant and University College instructor
What was your major and why did you choose it? I started in journalism and then switched to environmental science because DU is an expensive school and I was not sure that a journalism degree would be so good for paying back loans. I took some environmental science classes as a requirement and really loved them, so I switched to environmental science.
What has been your career path post-college? I thought originally that I would go to law school. I took the LSAT and didn't get in. I went to work for a law firm because they paid health benefits. After working there for a year or so I decide that law school was too expensive and I didn't like the long hours that the attorneys worked, so I decided to go back to school and get my master's degree in environmental science. Around the same time, I started looking for an environmental science job.
I wound up working for a manufacturing company in Golden doing environmental health and safety. I wasn't a big fan of the safety side and then transitioned to a corporate job that was all environmental: air, water and waste. That job ended up being really heavy on the air side and I really liked it. Then I had an opportunity to work for a utility company doing just air permit compliance.
I worked there for about six years and then decided that I wanted to work as an independent contractor, working for several manufacturing and utility companies. I have been doing that since 2019. In 2021 I had the opportunity to start teaching at DU in the master's program that I graduated from, which is the Master of Applied Science in environmental policy and management at University College. So now I'm doing environmental consulting independently and also teaching at DU.
What is something you're proud of in your career? I'm proud of being able to work for myself and also teach people that are early in their career or making a transition. I have had a lot of mentors in my life and career and I hope to do that for my students as well. I'm also proud of paying off my student loans!
Do you have any words of wisdom for our current students? Stay focused on your goals and also what makes you happy in life. It's important to have a balance of work and life and I definitely think that working especially hard in my 20s has helped me to be able to have more balance now that I have a family.
Position: Freelance Journalist
What was your major and why did you choose it? Journalism studies. Looking back, I'm not entirely sure why I chose it. I took every English and literature class I could in high school. I love to read novels and magazines and talk to people, so journalism felt like a natural extension of my interests. I took my first major class sophomore year, and one of my early articles was published in the Clarion. After I saw my first byline, I was hooked. I knew it was the career path for me.
What has been your career path post-college? I started my career right after graduation as an editorial intern at 5280, Denver's city magazine. Eventually, I was hired as the editorial assistant, and I spent six years at the publication, working my way through different roles: overseeing the fact-checking department, co-editing the front-of-book section, writing for print and digital, etc. I eventually became a senior editor, which involved concepting, writing, and editing service packages and reporting longform articles, among other things. Nowadays, I'm a freelance journalist. I just marked five years of being out on my own. I write articles on social justice issues, travel, health, and more for local, national and international publications, including the Guardian, Hemispheres, Conde Nast Traveler and the BBC.
What is something you're proud of in your career? What I'm most proud of is being able to tell the stories of people whose experiences are often overlooked or misunderstood. Journalism is a gateway into people's lives and having the opportunity to share the narratives of those whose voices often aren't heard is something I don't take for granted. I'm also proud of the fact that I've developed a sustainable freelance career while living in Denver, not in the coastal cities that are considered the hubs of journalism in the U.S. Young journalists are often told they have to move to New York if they want to make it. You don't!
Do you have any words of wisdom for our current students? Be persistent. Journalism is a tough field, and it's only growing more challenging. If there's a job you want or a story you really want to tell, keep pursuing it. You're going to hear a lot of rejection along the way. Let it motivate you. And develop your own definition of success. What is it you want to achieve? What will make you feel successful? Your goals don't have to be the same as everyone else's. Figure out what will make you happy.
Position: Account Supervisor, Marino PR
What was your major and why did you choose it? My major at DU was strategic communication with minors in marketing and political science. Initially, I started my time at DU as a journalism major with the goal of becoming a broadcast journalist and news anchor but as the first and second quarter of my freshman year at DU progressed, I found myself gravitating more so to the public relations side of the business and shifted my focus to the strategic communication side of the MFJS school.
What has been your career path post-college? After DU, I moved back to New York City and began working at Marino PR, a holistic strategic communications firm delivering data driven, fully integrated strategies focused on changing perceptions, amplifying impressions and fostering high-level relationships to build brands. Growing within the company over the past 2.5 years from a then-assistant account executive to now an account supervisor, I lead all of the day-to-day public relations activity and functions across our commercial and residential real estate development clients and accounts.
What is something you're proud of in your career? Something I've been most proud of has been my ability to grow at a rapid pace within Marino, rising from assistant account executive to account executive to senior account executive to now account Supervisor, all in 2.5 years, and how I've grown as a publicist along the way. Prior to landing at Marino, I didn't have a background in the real estate industry and I've been able to grow that skillset tremendously in a short span of time.
Do you have any words of wisdom for our current students? DU was honestly the best decision I ever made as I look at where I am currently in my career and how much DU helped to prepare me to succeed in working in public relations, a field notoriously known for its competitive and extremely fast paced nature. The wide array of classes taken within the MFJS school helped to more seamlessly bridge the gap between college and the "real world," an adjustment that's already extremely hard to manage for a multitude of different reasons (moving away from friends and potentially Denver/the life built there, etc.). If I could share one piece of advice to current students it would be to immersive yourself within the curriculum, enjoy it and trust in the vast expertise all of MFJS's professors bring to your lectures every day.
Position: Public Relations Manager, Vladimir Jones
What was your major and why did you choose it? My major was communications. I chose it because I loved to write and read, and I was fascinated with how books and newspapers came together (and I still am!). Before starting college, I was angling for a career in magazines.
What has been your career path post-college? While I was still in college, I did a PR internship during the summer and really liked the media relations work. It was a great blend of persuasive communications, business and culture, and I liked working with the media but not within it. After college, I continued in PR. Most of my career I've worked at agencies, with the exception of a couple nonprofit organizations.
What is something you're proud of in your career? I am proud of making a difficult but very necessary pivot in my writing style about six years into my career. I wrote in the passive voice, almost to a default. Looking back, it was hard to read and very difficult to understand, especially for someone coming to it from the outside. My manager at the time, someone who had been a reporter for many years, critiqued, corrected and simplified my writing constantly. It felt horrible, and I thought, "How could I be doing this so wrong now? No one has ever had a problem with my writing before!" But ultimately, I changed, and I'm much better for it now. I write more precisely, more directly AND I'm more open to feedback overall because I've seen it help me grow before.
Do you have any words of wisdom for our current students? In the beginning, I think it's important to dive into the work headfirst and learn and do as much as possible. Once you're about 6-8 years in, you can start to mold and shape your work to leverage the expertise you've gained, lean into the passions you've discovered or obtain flexibility that you may need to pursue other, non-work goals (family, fitness, hobbies, etc.). in your life. That said, if you find the perfect fit right away, and it doesn't change, stick with it. Follow your heart!
Molly (Gallegos) Tramontano
Position: Stay at home mom
What was your major and why did you choose it? My major was journalism studies and I minored in eMedia. Ever since I could remember I had wanted to document the world around me, and in high school I’d been the editor of the newspaper. When I entered DU (2001), digital publishing was still rather new and exciting, so with those two courses of study I knew my career would head in the right direction.
What has been your career path post-college? After graduation I moved to New York City, where I worked in a few niche market publications before landing at the Archdiocese of New York, where I was the main creative hand behind the country’s largest diocesan newspaper. I was there for ten years, and it was a thrilling way to spend my career. I helped to cover papal visits and other major events in New York, a very Catholic and Jewish city, and met a variety of fascinating people.
What is something you're proud of in your career? Not only was I able to work in the field I was so passionate about, but I felt my work had a higher moral calling and connection to the greater world. I was able to go far in my field because of the thorough and in-depth education I received at DU; I was always interested and inspired to go further and do better.
Do you have any words of wisdom for our current students? My advice to current students is to remember that great accomplishments take time—it isn’t always fame or money that make you successful, but often the humble hard work behind the scenes that provide a rewarding career.
Position: Communications Manager, Vitalant
What was your major and why did you choose it? I majored in journalism studies with a minor in communications. I wanted to work in broadcast news, so I thought the journalism program at DU was a great fit!
What has been your career path post-college? I worked in local news in Colorado for about seven years after graduating, and then entered the communications world. I started as a web editor at FOX31 and then spent a few years working at 9News, while ending my broadcast career working as a producer on the national entertainment show “Daily Blast Live”.
Almost three years ago, I made the jump to the non-profit world and I’m currently the communications manager for Vitalant, a national blood donation organization.
What is something you're proud of in your career? I am proud of being able to utilize the skills I learned at DU to get my first internship in TV news, which ultimately led to my first gig! I love telling other peoples’ stories in creative ways, and I feel like I have been able to do that in every job I’ve had.
Do you have any words of wisdom for our current students? Internships can definitely lead to a job opportunity, so make the most out of them! Always keep networking even when you've landed a job, because you never know where those connections can lead to.
Position: Humanities and Scholarly Communications Librarian, US Air Force Academy
What was your major and why did you choose it? English literature and journalism studies. I added journalism after working at The Clarion with Ania Savage, the advisor, who convinced me journalism would be a practical major. The two majors were writing intensive, but my journalism professors, especially Ania, helped me better understand the production of information and the many factors that influence the resulting final product.
What has been your career path post-college? After leveraging my journalism skills to work in academic administrations, I became an academic librarian. My journalism training has helped me teach others how information is produced, licensed and accessed, as well as why it is a commodity. Understanding the value of information in turn informed my advocacy for and work in open education and open pedagogy. Open education aims to make education more accessible and affordable through such initiatives as open textbooks, which are openly licensed and free to students.
What is something you're proud of in your career? While at the University of Kansas, I co-authored an open textbook, "Be Credible," which aims to equip undergraduate journalism students with the research skills and concepts necessary for their work. It is also great because students gained practical experience by creating various elements in the book. Plus, our research team found the textbook actually improved students' ability to assess the credibility of a source and that they even liked the textbook.
Do you have any words of wisdom for our current students? Majoring in journalism is great not because it will necessarily lead to a journalism career. Rather, the discipline will provide you with transferable skills and ways of thinking that will help you better understand how information is created, used, managed and valued. Understanding these concepts will help you succeed in virtually any profession.