Alumni Spotlight

Melanie K. Abe ’10
Field Representative
Office of Representative Julia Brownley (CA-26)

Majors: Global & Cultural Studies and Political Science

Minors: History and Chinese

Activities: Pi Sigma Alpha, ODK, Model UN, Political Science Student Council, Hawaiian Islanders Club, Metaphonian Society

What first attracted you to Whittier College? The location, the size, the small-town feel, and the people. 

Why did you choose to study your majors? When I was young, I wanted to be able to understand how laws and policies were created in order to help the less fortunate populations in my community. From there, I  became interested in the ways in which economic, social, political, and cultural factors influence policy and the role our government plays on local, state, federal, and international levels. As I started to think about my future career, I knew that I wanted to serve my country as a public servant. 

Describe your experience at Whittier College. My Whittier College experience was priceless. The professors, the faculty, the staff, and the friends I made there, all that defines the Whittier College community, are what made my experience what it was. The small-town feel and the one-on-one instruction you get in the classroom is unparalleled and shows the exemplary dedication to education that Whittier prides itself on. I think the ability for Whittier College students to be able to know their professors and develop relationships with them speaks volumes to the commitment that each faculty member and professor has for their students. Although it may be a small school, the sense of camaraderie will be with you far after you graduate. 

Did you intern while at Whittier College? Where, and what was that experience like? During my undergrad years at Whittier, I interned several times in Washington, D.C. for federal agencies like the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of State. These experiences only furthered my interest and desire to find a career in the government. 

What was your first job after Whittier? What are you currently up to? How has your Whittier education benefited you professionally? My first job after Whittier was in Washington, D.C., where I worked for Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (CA-46) in 2011. As of August 2013, I am now back in California, working for Congresswoman Julia Brownley (CA-26). Whittier College has given me the ability and confidence to find a career path that fits my educational accolades and interests. Whittier has not only given me the academic proficiency, but also the personal and professional confidence to be an active voice and mentor for youth who are also seeking a future career in public service. I know that my success at Whittier and at present is due, in large part, to the dedication and guidance from political science professor Fred Bergerson. His years of mentorship and investment in my personal and professional well-being inspires me to do the same for others. 

What advice would you give to future GCS alumni when they graduate? Don't get discouraged when things don't seem like they're going to work out. Everything happens for a reason, and timing is no exception. 

Finish this sentence: I am a ‘Poet for Life’ because... no matter where my career or life takes me, Whittier will always be a sense of home.

-Are you a graduate of the Global & Cultural Studies program and want to share your story? Contact the Office of Communications at