June 28, 2020

When Melissa Barnes ’19 first won a $2,000 scholarship from T&M Associates, a New Jersey-based environmental consulting firm, she didn’t know that she would also win an alumni mentor.

It was Rebecca Neubauer ’15 who notified Barnes of her successful scholarship application. From then on, they stayed in communication. The earth and environmental sciences major later won a second scholarship from the company, and Neubauer continued to coach Barnes on her résumé and job search before notifying her of an available position with the company.

“At first, Becky was someone who was mentoring me and then we built a friendship,” Barnes said. “Now that she’s a coworker, it’s neat to have that foundation.”

At T&M, Barnes will work as a staff scientist, working in the field to conduct soil and groundwater testing for government and private clients. She encourages other students to take advantage of alumni who are willing to help.

“Our alumni network is this great thing that SU has, and some schools that are larger don’t have that,” Barnes said. “If you know alums in your field or a related field, never be afraid to reach out. Take the opportunity and run with it.”