CSCC Alumni Melissa Alley Woody

Thursday, September 7, 2017 - by Holly Vincent

How many people can say they have managed to always have a job they can be passionate about and believe in? According to CSCC Alum Melissa Alley Woody, she is one of those people. 

Woody, the vice president of Tourism Development for the Cleveland / Bradley Chamber of Commerce, told herself once she stops believing in something, then it will be time to move on, but so far, that just hasn’t been the case. When Woody started her educational journey at Cleveland State, she wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to do with her life. Fast forward a few decades and she couldn’t be more certain of her career decision. Another decision she is sure about—her decision to attend CSCC. 

“When you are at a community college, you are still finding out who you are outside your high school bubble. It is really a great time to better define what your interests are and then what your path is going to be to get there.” 

For Woody, she decided on a General Transfer degree before transferring to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where she majored in Communications with a minor in History. She came to this decision based on an interest exam in the CSCC Counseling office that assisted students in finding their strengths and weaknesses and then offering advice on majors. Woody scored very high in two categories—public relations and private investigation. Although the two topics may not seem related, Woody said she sees now how they can go hand in hand. With her position at the Chamber, she has to do a lot of research and questioning or as she calls it “investigating.” 

“When I looked back on my college career, I could not remember that many of my UTC professors, maybe one or two in the Communications Department, but I knew the names of so many people at CSCC who I had met during my time there—Jerome Taylor, John Bradley, Fred Wood, Spencer Culbreth, Bob Taylor, Tom Losh, Steve Longley, “Cig” (Jim Cigliano), Judy Watts, Renate Basham, David Suttles, Norma Davis…I have so many great memories of all of these people.”

And speaking of memories, Woody recalls one of her favorite memories from CSCC was having Dr. Renate Basham for French and being invited to her home to celebrate the end of the semester with a fancy French dinner. 

“We were able to invite people, so my mom went with me,” stated Woody. “It was such an amazing experience and something I will never forget. It still is such a wonderful memory for me. That was my first recipe using capers!” 

Woody received an Academic Principal’s Scholarship to attend CSCC which required her to work five hours on campus each week. For her work assignment, she worked for Coach Steve Longley in the Athletic Department and Bob Taylor in Student Relations. She was also actively involved in several clubs and organizations on campus including the Student Hosts where she was a tour guide for prospective students vising the college. Working on campus allowed Woody to meet a lot of new people. In fact, two of her best friends are people she met while enrolled at CSCC. One was a graduate of Polk County High School, and the other, Cleveland High School, while Woody was a graduate of Bradley Central, so without CSCC, they may never have met.

“Cleveland State is a real jewel in our community,” stated Woody. “The people there are great. You get one on one attention from your instructors. The campus is beautiful. It’s such an amazing place…My wish is that the campus will continue to thrive, and people will see the value of what’s offered there and the community will realize what a great institution we have right here in our community and continue to support its current and future growth.”

Woody takes her role as a CSCC alum very seriously and says she always recommends the college to students that come to mentor or job shadow at the Chamber. She has also recently taken on the role of Chair of the Alumni Community of Cleveland State. This is the newly formed organization established with a mission to “Connect, Engage and Celebrate” Cleveland State’s alumni within the wider community of employees and friends of the college. 

For more information on the Alumni Community at Cleveland State or to register as a CSCC Alumni, contact Cindy Dawson, coordinator of Development and Alumni Relations, at 423-472-7141, ext. 703. You can also visit the website at

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