Compassion for Community

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Melisa (Abiera) Cameron is a 1985 graduate of Concordia University Ann Arbor.
Melisa (Abiera) Cameron is a 1985 graduate of Concordia University Ann Arbor.
Editor's Note: This story first appeared in the spring 2017 issue of Arbor Light, the official magazine of Concordia University Ann Arbor. View a PDF version of the magazine here.

As a leader in community relations with a passion for corporate responsibility, Melisa (Abiera) Cameron (’85) shares reflections from her Concordia University Ann Arbor experience; her heart for volunteering; and details of her action-packed, influential career in business as Regional Lead for Community Engagement at AT&T.

Melisa (Abiera) Cameron (’85)

Q: Describe a day in the life of your current position as regional lead of community engagement.
A: No two days are alike, and that’s what I love about it. One day, I might be in Detroit working with volunteers from our company on a Habitat for Humanity project, and the next day I might be back in Chicago with coworkers painting murals in an inner-city school. My role is to drive positive change and promote greater good in our world by finding, creating, and leading volunteer opportunities to increase employee engagement, and excel in corporate social responsibility. As regional lead, I oversee projects across 20 states.
Q: How did CUAA prepare you for this position?
A: The faculty gave personal attention to each student, and that was really special. I remember learning writing and verbal communication skills from Professor Adler, one of my communication professors at Concordia, that I still use to this day. My company has a mentoring program, and we do a lot of work with high school students. They ask me, “Where did you study? What was your major?” I tell them to keep an open mind because you never know where your gifts and talents are going to lead you. You might have a plan, but God’s plan could lead you in a different direction. That’s what happened to me.
Q: What is your fondest memory at Concordia University Ann Arbor?
A: One of my favorite memories was being a part of the Social Action Committee. Back then, we had to do all of our event promotion the grassroots way—hanging posters around campus! I’ll never forget spreading out materials on the Manor Living Room floor, surrounded by pencils, markers, and crayons, drawing on a poster for an upcoming movie night. Luckily I don’t have to rely on handmade posters anymore!
Q: Where did your passion for giving back to the community and volunteering begin?
A: My siblings and I were taught by our parents at a very early age to give back and care about the people around us. I remember that when my dad was going through medical school and my mother was supporting our family she would still make time to volunteer with the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML) or open our home to someone in need of a warm meal.
Q: What advice would you give to Concordia students?
A: Find a mentor. Whether it’s through a formal mentoring program, or just a person you know and look up to. Then, look for opportunities for reverse mentoring. How can you mentor someone else? Also, think about what it is that you can do to always be a better team member. What can you bring to study groups, classroom discussions, your team, or your community to make everyone better as a whole? When you’re improving those around you, you’re improving yourself.