Melody Pao ’11 is serving her first year as chair of The Wellesley Fund, a position she will hold through 2025. Pao, who majored in French at Wellesley, holds a master’s in French literature from Middlebury College and a master’s in teaching foreign languages (French and English) from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. She is an English lecturer at the Université Paris-Est Créteil and a French instructor for the Alliance Française of Portland, Ore., the Alliance Française of Chicago, and the Middlebury Language Schools. She lives in Paris.

How did your time at Wellesley influence your decision to support the College as an alum?

I absolutely loved my time at Wellesley! It was a period of tremendous personal and intellectual growth. I loved my classes, my professors, the close-knit community, and the beautiful campus. Since I graduated, I’ve been supporting the College because of the incredible experience I had there as a student.

Why did you become involved with The Wellesley Fund?

In fall 2020, The Wellesley Fund team was looking for a Wellesley Fund representative for the class of 2011. It was during the pandemic, and I wanted to support organizations that I cared about during that challenging time. I volunteered to be a representative because I thought I could be helpful in that role, particularly given my past professional experience with fundraising. Last spring, I was elected to the WCAA Board of Directors as chair of The Wellesley Fund.

What are your goals for your time in this position?

My goals are increasing engagement and the numbers of donors across all class years, most especially for recent graduates, and finding new and creative ways to best support the College and the alumnae community, particularly in light of the upcoming merger, the campaign, and the sesquicentennial celebration.

Why do you give to The Wellesley Fund? How do you feel your support benefits the College and its current students?

Personally, I feel it is important to give to The Wellesley Fund because of all it has given me and countless other alumnae. I believe my support helps the College further its mission in educating leaders who will make a difference in the world. Contributions to The Wellesley Fund go toward all aspects of student life, and it is my hope that current and future generations will be able to enjoy an incredibly fulfilling college experience, just as I did.

Alums who give to The Wellesley Fund can choose from several designations to support an area of the College that is especially meaningful to them. Do you think that encourages younger alums to donate?

I hope young alums will be inspired to give to The Wellesley Fund to support areas of the College that are most important to them, based on their own personal experiences and values. Gifts to The Wellesley Fund have a direct impact on equity and inclusion initiatives, financial aid and scholarships, residential life opportunities, student health and wellness programming, and teaching and research. I want young alums to know that they have the power to enhance the Wellesley experience for today’s students.

What did you learn at Wellesley that has proven surprisingly useful in your life or career?

While writing my senior thesis, I learned this from my faculty advisor: “Embrace nuances and paradoxes.” It was an insightful piece of advice that helped me not only determine the direction of my thesis, but also try to make sense of life’s complexities. It was also at Wellesley that I came to identify as a feminist. It’s empowering to be surrounded by so many strong female leaders! I learned never to underestimate the power of the Wellesley network and community.

What’s your favorite spot on campus, and why?

There are so many! I have a soft spot for the library, because that’s where I spent many hours studying. During my senior year, I had a carrel with a lovely view of the campus.