Photo via volstate.edu
By Riley Holcraft
Dr. Melva Black, chair of the communications department at Volunteer State Community College, is a woman of many talents, passions and experiences.
Her responsibilities at Vol State include supporting goals, interests and ideas of the department; hearing from students; and keeping up with the schedule.
She has worked for Vol State for six years but has consistently served others throughout her life.
Her parents, both educators, were always committed to community service, and she has followed their selfless example. Her giving spirit plays a large role in her life as she volunteers for multiple organizations.
Black volunteers at the First Response Center, a program responsive to the community’s HIV/AIDS needs. She is a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated that participates in a number of service projects. She is the immediate past chair of the United Way Ryan White Program where she holds a roll in advising and overseeing grants. She organizes international education and health projects for her church. She is the president of the Faculty Breakfast Club, a collaborative club consisting of four historically black colleges and universities in Nashville.
Black is also the owner of a dog named Anastasia LaFontaine. Students can ask to see the pup’s picture if they ever stop by Black’s office.
While one would think all of these responsibilities would create a full-enough plate, Black is also a jazz radio DJ for WFSK at Fisk University. She has been volunteering at this radio station for 13 years. She also studied classical piano for eight years. However, music is not Black’s only area of expertise.
She began college at Dillard University in New Orleans and was recruited by LSU to study in East Berlin at Humboldt University, becoming the second African-American to study at the institution. She then attended the University of Illinois to study Germanic languages and literature where she returned to Germany to finish her master’s program in the city of Regensburg.
She came back to her hometown of Nashville after 13 years to complete a master’s degree in corporate communication at Austin Peay State University.
After this, she worked in nonprofits, travelling to South America and Haiti to focus on health and education.
In 2013, Black earned her doctorate in education from Lipscomb University.
Her undying passion for service combined with her brilliant mind makes Dr. Melva Black a valuable asset to the Vol State community. Her determination has taken her all over the world, but now Vol State is lucky to have her on staff.
She gave Len Assante, Vol State communication faculty member, all the credit for “taking a chance” on her and went on to explain that her job at Vol State has been one of the most inspiring and enriching professional experiences.
“I was interested in navigating out of the nonprofit world and into higher education. I really thought the work that I had done in the nonprofits provided a space for me to give through an educational landscape. Hopefully, one day you will have this experience in your professional career where you will feel like you were born for this. That’s how I feel: like I was born for this,”