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Dr. Melinda Lewis

Dr. Melinda Lewis

Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2007. She then went to Bowling Green Street University where she graduated with a Masters in American Culture Studies in 2009 and then with a PhD (also in American Culture Studies) in 2014.

L's Taken

6 "Thank you for applying but..."

  • I only applied to one college as an undergraduate because I didn't know how to navigate those systems
  • I applied to multiple graduate programs (I can't remember how many), but only got accepted to two ... I think. The first acceptance was clear, but the other from a big-name school in New Jersey came in the form of a shady e-mail and an offer of a $500 stipend - it didn't make me feel particularly valued as a potential student
  • When applying for faculty positions . . . oof . . . I probably sent out a total of 80 (at least) applications and either heard nothing or received rejections
  • We were told that despite not going to an elite institution our teaching backgrounds would still make us ideal candidates. It didn't feel like it when the rejections (or the lack of responses which felt even worth - like you can't even tell me no?) came flowing in
  • When applying for my current position, I simultaneously applied to an education director position. I was very excited about the possibility and thought my in-person interview went really well, but they never told me - so I kept "following up" until they had to break up with me as a candidate
  • I have started sending out applications for awards and recognitions for The Smart Set, the arts and culture publication we publish out of the college, and I have already heard either rejections . . . or once again, nothing at all.

1 Things I swore I'd finish but never did…

  • I was supposed to convert my dissertation into a book and never did; there are so many articles I've thought about and never committed to paper; I still have a draft of short nonfiction stories I'd like to write about crime; lot of thoughts, but little to no action.

3 Everyday L's of Life:

  • The other day, I told my therapist, "Do you know that people just wake up and just take care of themselves?" I find it astounding that there are people who do their dishes and declutter as part of their routine
  • I get frustrated when I feel like my brain and body aren't on the same page - like when I want to work, but my brain wants TikTok.
  • Or when my body is trying to go to sleep and my brain wants to have an existential crisis.

2 Failures that seemed like the end of the world back then but don't matter in hindsight:

  • I remember having a few existential crises in graduate school: of not knowing how the pay structure worked and being caught unaware of how I would pay my bills and wondering how at 26 my friends were buying houses and I was sobbing in my parents' living room
  • Realizing I didn't have a future in academia as a professor AS I was finishing my PhD felt pretty low and I had no idea what to do and none of my professors didn't seem to know what to do either. I didn't regret the experience - I loved learning, but I didn't appreciate the exploitative environment that made it feel like there was a future when, at the end of the experience, there didn't seem to be that promise. It felt like a hard stop.

1 Regrets I have:

  • Nothing major. I did my gig. However, I would have had more faith in myself at the jump and taken more leaps knowing now that I was far more capable than what I thought in my late teens and 20s.

On the Bright Side

2 Memories I made when I wasn't studying/working

  • My friend and I road tripped across the country when we were 19. It was so stupid in hindsight but it was an act of bravery that I hold onto and taught me a lot about resiliency
  • Graduate school was really a place where bonds were formed. During qualifiers, ordering Jimmy Johns and watching Gilmore Girls episodes with my bestie (who was also taking exams) or holding annual proms to just get beyond the BS and have fun. Those points of letting go were vital. When I started my first instructor position, I found myself overworking and dictated that I would spend Fridays doing absolutely nothing for my job. I would go to the movies in the afternoon and see whatever was playing, pick up Thai food on the way home (from my favorite restaurant in Perrysburg, Ohio), and then spend the evening watching tv or movies - it drastically changed my outlook - that I didn't need to give my job everything and this is something that I continue to remind myself.

4 Things I've learned that will still matter in 10 years

  • My job is not my life
  • The body is not an apology
  • You have to take care of yourself before anybody or anyone else
  • If you're burnt out - you can't do much of anything - you got to make yourself a priority in invest in you

23 Books I've read for fun:

  • The Low Low Woods
  • A Song for You
  • My Life with Whitney Houston
  • This Music Leaves Stains
  • The Complete History of the Misfits
  • A Curious History of Sex
  • Playing the Field
  • Sex, Stardom, Love, and Life in Hollywood
  • Ever body: An Honest and Open Look at Sex from Every Angle
  • Boy, Snow, Bird
  • These Truths: A History of the United States
  • Moms
  • A Handbook of Disappointed Fate
  • Disability Visability
  • Ayoade on Top
  • Indecent Advances: The Hidden History of Murder and Masculinity Before Stonewall
  • Thick: and other essays
  • Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
  • Carrie
  • Fantasy
  • Christine
  • Pleasure Activism
  • Bad as I Wanna Be

7 Things I'm proud of that you won't see on a resume

  • I am a great cat mom
  • I write my friends postcards every week
  • I ran 10 miles in a Rocky Run
  • I listen to new music every week and put all of my favorites on a playlist which is a fun project
  • I went on a month long roadtrip when I was 19 where I saw a lot of the country and had a series of adventures
  • I grew up on military bases as kid in the early 90s, and since have gained a lot of insight into politics and powers through unpacking that lived history
  • Before the pandemic I was going to the Philadelphia Museum of Art nearly every week and every time I travel I try to hit up the city art museum

1 Unconventional skills:

  • I don't like to brag, but I'm pretty adept at writing greeting cards.

2 Quirks that make me who I am:

  • I know more about popular culture than I do basic algebra
  • I can recall a handful of Lindsay Lohan's ex boyfriends far easier than I can multiply.

4 Obstacles I have overcome:

  • I lived on military bases overseas for the first 8 years of my life, which is a whole deal in and of itself, but then coming back to the United States — that transition was really bewildering and scary
  • My parents didn't go to college until they were in their thirties, so there were a lot of moments where I was home alone or in a community college library and I had to learn how to make my own time valuable
  • I was bullied pretty early on as a kid and it's only been recently that I've come to realize how dramatically that affected my childhood and adulthood
  • I didn't know how to navigate all the opportunities college had — partly because my parents only knew so much themselves and because it took me a long time to really gain confidence in my intellectual abilities, which came from finding the major that worked for me after two and half years and three changes in major.

3 Things I've done that pushed me out of my comfort zone:

  • I went on a road trip at 19 that really forced me to confront my boundaries but also embrace the strange
  • Moving from rural college towns to Philadelphia was a major change
  • I hadn't had to navigate a city before and never expected to and I certainly didn't plan to stay for five years, but no regrets

1 Leaps of faith:

  • Taking a faculty fellow position at Drexel! I knew I could stay in a renewable one-year position in Northwest Ohio for a long time or take this gig in Philadelphia for a year - and I went with the city. It felt like the push I needed to figure out my next step and I ended up really adoring my colleagues to the point of applying for a gig that I was qualified enough for and eventually would transition into what I have today, which is a job I really like because it enables me to hit all these pleasure points that I don't think I could find/do elsewhere.

3 Life events that have made me stronger:

  • Moving around every three years underscored the significance of adaptability
  • Grad school taught me resiliency and that the work gets done
  • My year or so as an instructor underscored that I can't make work my life — I'm not cut out for the grind and to be satisfied with that was a major lesson...And making leaps of faith and surviving has taught me about the durability of this body