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Alumnus Excels in U.S. Army

11/12/15

A history major who minored in political science at MCLA, Tom Mellone ’11 decided just a few months before he graduated that he wanted to join the military: he’s a medic and a team leader in the United States Army.

“During classroom discussions, especially in history/political science, we would talk about military spending, soldiers in Iraq, etc., but it seemed like no one really knew what it was like to be a soldier, or to be part of the U.S. military. I decided I wanted to experience it for myself,” Mellone explained.

His time at MCLA prepared him for the work he does today.

“As a sergeant in the Army, you do a lot of research and paperwork. Having a strong foundation in both from MCLA has really helped me. Also, having a college degree has helped me to progress faster in the Army because senior leaders put more confidence in educated soldiers, and I have a good work ethic and study habits.”

In addition to participating in student teaching at MCLA, Mellone also took advantage of multiple public speaking opportunities on campus. For one of his courses, he presented a revitalization proposal to the mayor of North Adams.

According to Mellone, “You need to be a good public speaker if you are going to be a good leader. Everyone has different learning styles, and you have to account for each one of them when you are explaining missions to your soldiers.”

Another class took Mellone to the North America Model United Nations (NAMUN) conference in Toronto, Canada, where he served on the Security Council.

“The NAMUN conference helped to expose me to different political views and opinions, as well as increase my political knowledge,” he said. “This helps me to understand the basics of military operations that I have been a part of.”

With this background, Mellone rose quickly to leadership positions within the Army.

“I put in a lot of hard work: I earned my expert field medic badge – one of the most difficult badges to earn with a pass rate of around 18 percent – deployed to Kuwait for nine months, won ‘Soldier of the Month,’ quarter and year boards, participated in the Southern Regional Best Medic Competition, and graduated as distinguished honor graduate from Warrior Leader Course, the first basic leadership course for enlisted soldiers,” he said.

As a sergeant, Mellone is responsible for leading and training junior soldiers. His military occupational specialty is combat medic, which he learned through an accelerated EMT and Army-specific combat casualty care course. As team leader, he’s in charge of other medics as he trains them on the job at the General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital Emergency Room in Missouri.

His work there includes starting IVs, drawing blood, administering certain medications, suturing, performing life-saving interventions such as CPR, and casting broken or sprained arms and legs.

However, “The best part of my position is developing soldiers into successful, confident individuals who know how to work with others to accomplish any mission, whether or not they decide to stay in the Army,” he said.

Mellone had “a great academic experience” at MCLA.

“The professors really seemed to love what they were teaching, and were very knowledgeable,” he explained. “They didn’t have too many students, so they were always able to respond to e-mails and answer questions after class. They also seemed to really care about North Adams, which was nice because it helped to connect the College to the community.”