Melinda Dennis ’87 explains why she gives back to Davidson, most recently in the form of a planned gift, in the simplest of terms. “Really, why wouldn’t I?” she said.
She believes in tradition and generations and family. She believes in supporting those who come after her, both in the world and at Davidson, a school with principles that have meant so much to her life.
“I want to see more Davidson graduates and know they came from the same background,” she said. “I want my money to go to places that I trust. And for me, that includes Davidson, my other alma mater—because I chose really well—and several environmental organizations that are doing important work.”
Dennis has many memorable experiences from Davidson, and she counts her study of languages and courses with English professor Cynthia Lewis among them.
“Reading Shakespeare with her was like a scavenger hunt,” said Dennis. “As students, we found the most amazing treasures. I would’ve missed them if I had just read, but we dropped down into the language. It made it worth it to be an English major even though I wasn’t sure exactly where it would lead me.”
Dennis knew she would always be able to write, read and think critically, skills she attributed to what she calls an amazing foundation.
“I remember saying to myself, ‘If you can get through Davidson homework between 1983 and 1987, you can literally get through anything.’ I think we were told that homework was designed so we couldn’t possibly finish all of it. I’m still not sure if that was a rumor!”
Following Davidson, Dennis went to Japan, a trip that was made possible in part by contributions from Wildcat alumni.
“I didn’t think twice about crossing the whole globe,” she said. “It didn’t strike me once that I couldn’t do it. It was far away and completely organized from scratch. When I started at Davidson, I don’t know if I would’ve had that confidence. I knew I had the spunk and the interest, but perhaps it was the confidence that was built during those four years.”
Following her time in Japan, Dennis worked in international language studies and education for 14 years. Diagnosed with celiac disease, and building on her skills as a teacher, she decided to combine those two areas of her life in the next step of her career.
Today, she is a registered dietitian and the nutrition coordinator of the Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. She is also the founder and owner of a nutrition consulting business, Delete the Wheat, LLC, which focuses on personalized, whole foods-based nutrition education to maximize health and wellness and increase awareness of special diets.
Her work is challenging, she says, but Davidson prepared her to welcome challenges in every aspect of her life. Davidson also prepared her to pay it forward.
“Through my work and my volunteer roles, I see that strong desire to serve others in my life every day,” said Dennis “I’m happy to be able to create that foundation for others.”
Dennis encourages others to think about how they can make a meaningful difference for Davidson and the future of the college and its students.
“I would ask my friends to think about the people they are today and how much that has to do with our time at Davidson,” she said.