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by Dru WaltersStudent Contributor

Dr. Michelle McLeese begins each day at 4:30 a.m., demonstrating her dedication to serving the ALC students. Along with her role as the Division Chair for Humanities and Social Sciences at Alice Lloyd College, Dr. McLeese is a strong presence in the various extracurricular activities going on in Pippa Passes such as the ALC Theater Club, the ALC Sociology Club (of which she is the founder), and the Voices of Appalachia. She is also a fitness instructor, teaching Pilates, Step Aerobics, and Cardio Boxing classes during both the Spring and Fall semesters. In addition to all this, Dr. McLeese is the mother of two children ages five and two, Isabelle and Joseph.

It is only her third year at Alice Lloyd College, but Dr. McLeese is entering her ninth year of teaching, both in the classroom and online. She is a first-generation college graduate and states education is her passion. Dr. McLeese was born to a working-class family in Houston, Texas, before moving to Virginia at age 7. She often cites that she discovered her passion for education as a result of the excellent schools and school systems she attended. She received a Doctorate of Philosophy in Sociology from Virginia Tech (VT) in 2017, on top of a Master of Science degree in Sociology and two Bachelor of Science degrees in Psychology and Sociology respectively. It was in the Ph.D. Sociology program at VT that she met her husband, Dr. Charles Walter. Both of them had concentrations in the field of mental health and were good friends for six years before their relationship turned romantic. They were married not two years later, and Dr. Walter also currently teaches in the Sociology department at ALC.

Dr. McLeese is familiar with the transformative power of education, and the importance of the community to foster scholarly pursuit in students. It is these beliefs that first led her to become inspired by ALC’s mission, and it is her faith that propels her into service, “I know this is where God wants me to be. I may not know exactly why just yet, but I know we are meant to be here.”

In her never-ending pursuit of a community that serves young minds both inside and outside the classroom, Dr. McLeese embodies the Purpose Road Philosophy. She reminds her students not only of ALC’s mission but of her own alma mater’s motto: Ut Prosim; Latin for “That I May Serve.”

To Dr. McLeese, educators do not just have an obligation to teach, but also to serve. Whether she is creating and managing a full-time academic and service-based internship or opening the weight-room at 5:30 a.m., Dr. McLeese remains grounded in faith, family, and education.