Paige Melin’s passion for Buffalo Niagara radiates in everything she does, from her start in the Youth and Recreation Department for the Town of Cheektowaga, to her current role with Explore Buffalo, to her journey as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. Over the years, Paige has discovered people and causes that motivate her to continue making our community a better place every day. We sat down with Paige, who is the BN360 Spotlight Professional for July, to talk about her professional journey, where she finds inspiration, and what the future holds.
Q: Paige, how did you start your professional journey?
Paige: My first “real” job was with the Cheektowaga Youth and Recreation Department as a program attendant and then a supervisor. I was responsible for program planning, which entailed activities like the book club and the dance club, among others. This was my first time working with kids. And when it comes to that, my biggest takeaway was that you have to listen. The challenge is infusing what they are telling you—the things they want and need—into the work you are doing. Working in the Youth and Recreation Department helped me discover that I love working with young people. I enjoy their enthusiasm and the challenge of meeting their expectations.
Q: What has been an inspirational moment for you?
One day, it was a Thursday, I was scheduled to give a Canalside school tour. To be honest, I was really tired and not in the mood to work with an energetic group of school-aged kids. We have all had those days. But, when it comes to working with kids, you don’t have a choice; you have to be “on.” They will always bring 100% in terms of energy and enthusiasm and they are expecting to receive the same. As it turned out, it was one of my most fulfilling tours ever! I was reminded of the importance of being present and of living in the moment. With kids, you have to be mindful, you have to be there—really be there—and you have to be ready to respond to them. This experience validated my enthusiasm for working with youth and my love of teaching.
Q: Has mentorship played a role in your development?
Absolutely! I have had the privilege of having different mentors during different stages of my career path. At Explore Buffalo, I have had a great mentor who has been someone to talk with, someone to help me understand and overcome the occasional awkwardness of being a young professional, and someone who has helped me understand how to navigate generational workplace differences and how to use them as strengths. One of my most profound mentors is the former Curator at the University at Buffalo Poetry Collection. Even now, I still rely on this person as a sounding board both in my love of poetry and in life in general.
Q: You are currently with Explore Buffalo. Do you have a favorite tour? If you could create a new tour, what would it be?
As Education Coordinator at Explore Buffalo, I am able to combine and live out my passions: working with youth, my love for our region (historically and in terms of continued development), and my love of teaching. It is a perfect storm. While I love all of our diverse tours, my favorite has to be the Silo City Vertical Tour. When I think about Canalside and Silo City now, it hits me that Buffalo Niagara’s children and future children will know nothing other than what those areas are now and are becoming—a beautiful and rich cultural destination. If I could create and implement a new tour, it would be a Historical Literature Tour in the literary corridor along Washington Street. Buffalo Niagara has been and still is home to many literary greats.
Q: Where do you see yourself in the future?
Ultimately, I’d love to become a college professor, but I want to go beyond the traditional definition of being a lecturer and educator. I hope my future students will see me as a mentor. Soon, I will be leaving for Senegal after having received a Fulbright Fellowship. I am excited for the next step in my journey and am sure it will help me on my path to earning a Ph.D. and becoming a professor.
BN360 is the young professional development and engagement program of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. Learn more about BN360 and find out how you can get involved here. BN360 is presented by Alliance Advisory Group. The 2019 Spotlight Professionals series sponsor is Alpine Films.
This content was produced in collaboration between Buffalo Rising and The Buffalo Niagara Partnership. The facts and opinions published in Buffalo Rising express solely the thoughts and opinions of our respective authors.