#RealLifeWonderWoman–Meet Melissa Sturm-Smith

Wonder Woman inspires me with her grit and determination. She fights for truth and justice and possess super-human strength. Yet, she has the heart of a woman.

We encounter passionate, fascinating women every day. These women may not chase down bad guys in shiny red boots and may not wear tiaras to work, but they get stuff done. They are employees, wives, sisters, daughters, caretakers, volunteers, mothers, partners, bosses and lovers. They are real women—awesome and inspiring women—with stories to share.

I’ve made it my personal mission to share stories of wonderful women in hopes of empowering us to come together to honor and support one another. Please join me as I feature a different #RealLifeWonderWoman each Wednesday on my blog at raditowrite.com.

Meet Melissa!

Today’s #RealLifeWonderWoman wears many hats. Among other things, she’s a wife, mother,volunteer, higher ed professional and super-communicator. She works as the Associate Provost for Academic Excellence and Student Success at Drake University. This woman has passion and a heart for helping others–especially students–succeed. She’s both inspired and inspiring. Please read on and get to know #RealLifeWonderWoman Melissa Sturm-Smith. 

 KR: Hi Melissa! As women, we often get pulled in so many directions that we have to be very intentional about identifying what (or who) fills our tank. What brings you joy and fulfillment?

MSS: I get to work with college students as a professor and an advisor.  The most fulfilling times in those roles are witnessing a student’s “ah-ha” moment.  It could be reflections on lessons learned, reaching a new level of intrapersonal understanding, or simply walking alongside them as they overcome a challenge.

My family brings me great joy. My immediate family includes two teenage boys and a spouse, as well as my extended family of my parents, my mother-in-law, 3 sisters, 4 brothers-in-law, 2 nephews and a niece. I love spending time with them, and the group text with my sisters makes me laugh every day.

I love setting goals (and achieving them!) and finding new ways to be intentional in my daily life. I think it is important to live with purpose while enjoying your life. So, my goal setting brings me joy not stress!

KR: We know even Wonder Woman needs some down time. What do you like to do for fun?

MSS: Reading (I will read anything!  Magazines, fiction, biography, leadership and self-improvement, the back of cereal boxes!), biking, finding new meal prep and crock pot recipes, attending my kids’ sport and fine arts events.

Melissa’s favorite refrigerator magnet. A gift from one of her sisters.

KR: We all have inner superpowers. What are some of yours?

MSS: Like the Tim McGraw song, I believe I am humble and kind. In addition, I pride myself on my integrity – I always try to do as I say I will do. I am very organized and detail-oriented, which comes in handy both in my job and on family vacations.

KR: Can you tell us about an influential woman in your life and how she inspired you?

MSS: Renee Cramer is a faculty member at Drake University who is also a friend and a mentor to me. Renee is accomplished as an academic – a full professor, author of several books, a well-known scholar in her field. She is also an incredible teacher and advisor to college students. On top of all those accomplishments, she lives a really beautiful life. She has a close-knit, loving family who share many common interests and truly enjoy each other.  She is an accomplished vegan chef and a dedicated yoga practitioner who knows how to feed her family and her soul. But she is also a real, vulnerable human. She is willing to show the bumps and the bruises of life, but does so modeling how to be graceful with oneself. Well, most of the time – she is human too!

KR: Knowing what you know at this stage of your life, what words of wisdom would you give to your 20-year-old self?

MSS: I would tell myself to not fear failure, and stop worrying about what other people think. I would also advise myself to have a little more fun! I took life (and myself) very seriously as a young adult, and would sometimes miss out on small and big moments of joy because of that seriousness.  And, I would remind myself to practice gratitude.

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