The Mele Quadruplets in Spring, 2014: Bobby, Danny, Erin, and Grace

Graduating from Hartwick College is a Mele Family Affair

May 13, 2014

On May 24, 2014, the senior class will don their caps and gowns and graduate together as the Hartwick College Class of 2014. Of those seniors, four have a closer bond than most.

The Mele Quadruplets at the beginning of their Hartwick College careers: Bobby, Danny, Erin, and Grace

The Mele siblings, quadruplets Bobby, Danny, Erin, and Grace, came to Hartwick in the fall of 2010 with high hopes and expectations. Now, as they prepare to leave Oyaron Hill four years later, they are appreciative of their shared-but-separate experiences, and have maintained those same high hopes for their futures.

Grace, a Faculty Scholar in Biology/Pre-Med, explained that attending the same college as her siblings enhanced her overall experience and made it unique. "It has been interesting to watch my siblings grow and branch out in their own directions and find their niche while at college," she said.

Bobby, a nursing major, spoke to the same idea. "My siblings were always close when I needed them, but we all found our own individual paths at Hartwick." He noted that due to Hartwick's diverse opportunities, each of the four Mele siblings was able to develop his/her own interests and pursue them.

For Erin, a Sociology major with a minor in Criminal Justice, those pursuits helped her to acquire an on-campus job with Campus Safety and the Switchboard and also led her to London during a J Term trip in 2013. She plans to pursue a career in law enforcement, and was able to examine the criminal justice system in the UK while on an international experience that she called "remarkable" and a "phenomenal learning experience." 

Back in Oneonta, her work-study position with Campus Safety granted her the opportunity to work with retired policemen who shared their insights and advice, and gave her a "unique perspective and understanding" of what her future may hold - a type of experiential learning that "no classroom could provide." Erin noted that her supervisors, Senior Dispatcher Tammy Sweeney, Campus Safety Supervisor David Clapp, and Director of Campus Safety Tom Kelly, made her Hartwick work experience memorable and useful. From the combination of her out-of-the-classroom experience and the guidance and knowledge of professors such as Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology Dr. Sara G. Whiteford, Erin feels confident and prepared to start her career.

Danny began his Hartwick career as a Music Education major, but transitioned into a business major with a minor in music. He plans to use both his major and minor to pursue job and entrepreneurial opportunities in music marketing. Danny notes that one of his biggest influences at Hartwick was his advisor, Assistant Professor of Business Administration Dr. Anthony Vennero. Danny spent J Term with Vennero and Associate Professor of Accounting, Dr. Penny Wightman in Italy during his junior year. "We studied global marketing while travelling through Rome, Florence, Venice, Bologna, Genoa, and Milan," said Danny. "This trip was a perfect example of Hartwick's experiential learning, and I would do it again in a heartbeat."

While at Hartwick, Danny worked as an admissions representative and was a Hartwick Overnight Program volunteer. He has orchestrated the sound production for the College's Orchesis Dance Club every semester, and played drums in Adjunct Instructor in Music John Davey's jazz combo that performed on-campus and in various local establishments. Danny has also been heavily involved in Greek Life; he served as his fraternity's rush chairman, resident advisor, social chairman, and vice president. He said, "I was able to broaden my knowledge by learning from brothers of different majors, socio-economic backgrounds, and lifestyles." He also explained that he now has a competitive edge in the job market due to extensive networking with alumni with whom he would have not otherwise connected.

"Hartwick's staff, culture, and structure have provided an incredibly opportunistic environment," Danny said. "I was able to capitalize on experiences that I never had imagined possible."

His advice to any incoming or current student is to seize every opportunity that Hartwick has to offer: "Take advantage of everything. Hartwick is a hidden gem in this world where you can find yourself, make the most out of that person, and enjoy it along the way. Take risks, push your comfort zone, sign up for classes you never thought you'd be able to handle, travel while you can, and take pictures because it goes by fast."

While Bobby and Grace are both preparing to enter the medical field, they've had their own distinct Hartwick experiences, in Johnstone Science Center and beyond - way beyond. 

Bobby noted that of his many life-changing experiences while at Hartwick, two were his J Term trips abroad: Cultural and Language Immersion in Peru (2012) and Transcultural Nursing in Jamaica (2013). "Being able to live in and engage with other cultures was truly transformational," he said.

Working toward a degree in nursing had a large impact on Bobby. The challenging work and exploration of the human condition constantly gave him the opportunity to grow. His professors, such as Professor of Nursing Dr. Jeanne-Marie Havener and the entire nursing faculty, were extremely helpful in relating underlying theory to practice. He also said that his 37 nursing classmates greatly affected his time at Hartwick.  "My close-knit class and I took nearly every class together - they are my nursing family, and will continue to be even after we grow apart." 

Bobby feels extremely fortunate and privileged to have developed the skills to "care for patients who require care and attention in any or all aspects of life: physical, mental, spiritual, environmental, occupation, etc."  He was able to hone these skills and narrow his focus during his Senior Practicum and his time at the Stony Brook Long Island Children's Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit during 2013. This opportunity allowed him to reflect on his own life and luck; he and his siblings were born eight weeks premature. "After working with such critically ill and premature newborns, 'miracle' is the word I use when describing how lucky my siblings and I are. We are lucky to be alive and functioning at a level to be able to receive an education and graduate together with bachelor's degrees from a reputable and challenging institution."

After his four years at Hartwick, Bobby sees more potential in himself than ever before.

"Coming to Hartwick, I was extremely shy and lacked confidence," Bobby explained. "I thank the Center for Student Success for its constant support and guidance, and Dean of Student Success, Robin Diana for acting as a leadership mentor and role model. I possess more confidence, and overall, I believe that my future is brighter. I have Hartwick College to thank for this because people at Hartwick believed in me and challenged me to grow. I honestly never thought I would be a student leader, a principle investigator of a research project, or a mentor to underclassmen, but that is what I became and I will always carry these experiences with me."

Grace, like her siblings, also took advantage of Hartwick's J Term programs. She travelled to South Africa (2012) to study Cultural Anthropology and to Spain (2013) to pursue her Spanish minor.

"I could not have asked for more incredible experiences," Grace said. "I have developed my cultural competency and also participated in incredibly humbling events that I will remember for the rest of my life." 

Grace feels that her time at Hartwick has made her a well-rounded individual. Not only has she traveled abroad, but she has done undergraduate research alongside Professor of Biology Dr. Stanley Sessions as well. Grace came to Hartwick as a recipient of a SSTEM Grant (Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), which heightened her excitement about Hartwick. As a senior, she has reflected upon the opportunities afforded to her by the scholarship: undergraduate research and conferences for the scientific community.

"Hartwick has truly given me what I needed to succeed," she said. "While four years does not seem like much time, these years have been the most influential and transformative years of my life thus far. I'm glad I chose to come to Hartwick."

Just as their time at Hartwick was filled with different courses, activities, and pursuits, the Meles' post-Hartwick futures will likely vary.

Erin plans to continue taking law enforcement exams and applying to federal law enforcement positions. She is also considering a master's degree in forensic science. Her aspirations could take her from New York City to Washington D.C.  Danny plans to enter the "rapidly evolving" music marketing world. He wants to "find the next big thing, and either be a part of it, or create it." Grace will spend the next four years in Old Westbury, NY to pursue a position she has accepted at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine. After earning her D.O. degree, she plans to continue in a residency program. Because her school offers medical outreach programs during the summer, Grace may also earn a master's in public health. Bobby plans to take his NCLEX-RN exam and to begin work as a Registered Nurse in a Neonatal Intensive Care setting, where he can "help the smallest patients reach for big dreams." He will start at the New Graduate Residency Program at UNC Chapel Hill in September and also complete a master's degree in nursing leadership online through Stony Brook University. His ultimate dream is to become a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner and then receive a Doctorate in Nursing Practice.

Bobby, Erin, Danny, and Grace all agree that Hartwick has helped them take steps toward their dreams while providing them a challenging and supportive environment in which to grow and flourish. Grace said, "I think that for the most part, we've done a good job of separating ourselves from being known as 'the quads' and have truly developed as individuals and taken advantage of all that Hartwick had to offer. While we do share some common friends, we each branched out socially and academically."

"I wouldn't have done college any other way," Erin reflected. "Looking back, I would choose Hartwick again." 

By Marketing & Communications Intern, Elizabeth Greco '14

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,500 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive curriculum emphasizes an experiential approach to the liberal arts. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a distinctive January Term, a wide range of internships, and vast study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for not just their first jobs, but for the world ahead. A Three-Year Bachelor's Degree Program and strong financial aid and scholarship offerings keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Valerie Capullo
Phone: 607-431-4031