Alumni Spotlight: Mellini Cross (BA ’96)

Alumni Spotlight: Mellini Cross (BA ’96)

Mellini Cross (BA ’96) is a Columbia alumna who is actively engaged with current students twenty years after graduation. As the owner operator of Herby Pop popcorn, she is partnering with the Introduction to Marketing class, teaching product development and other marketing concepts. We got a chance to interview her to see where her Columbia degree has taken her.

What degree did you earn from Columbia? When did you graduate?

I graduated from Columbia College with a double major in Public Relations and Theatre in 1996 ( I was a bit of an overachiever and graduated in 3 yrs).

What is your current job and how did you get there?

My current “job” is to help others create a healthy delicious life! I’m now serving as founder and creatress at Herby PoP Gourmet Herbed Popcorn. It’s is an enterprise of a ministry (Multiplying for the Master), founded by myself and my husband, focused on providing health and wellness education via creative seminars, workshops, and fitness events.


What field are you working in?

The field of work I’m in would definitely be considered interdisciplinary. If I had to put it in a box, it would be Ministry/Health&Wellness/Social Enterprise/Motivational Speaking.  And yes, that description still feels like a box.

 What was your most valuable Columbia experience?

My most valuable Columbia experience would definitely have to be learning in a creative, yet practical atmosphere. An atmosphere that pushes you to theoretically innovate and then practically make it happen–starting year one!

Were there any particular professors who have made a significant impact on you? How?
YES, there are two instructors that really left an impact upon me and my professional development.
Sheila Baldwin reinforced that no nonsense, no matter what, make it happen mentality. She was so real with sharing her experience and so authentic in her lectures that it made me feel like my little self, from a poor household on the Southside of Chicago, could do ANYTHING.  Daryl Gilbert was a strong and whimsical personality who knew marketing inside and out. She allowed me to come to her marketing job and interview her on the topics of  market research, particularly, and focus group moderating. From that interview she arranged for me to work, ground level, for the company–in a call center. Within two weeks, I discovered that type of work was not for me. HA! I went back to Daryl and she arranged an interview for me in house a the market research firm. I ended up working there my last year at Columbia. GREAT EXPERIENCE. I learned then, I wasn’t cut-out for classic corporate jobs.
Do you have any advice for current Columbia students?

My advice for current Columbia students would be to harness the power of their individuality and dreams while anchoring them with skill development and the super power of taking instruction and working well with others. I would also advise that if their goal in their fields is unconventional, GREAT, don’t be discouraged. NOW is the time for that type of innovation. The world needs YOUR genius.