NJP (Nice Jewish Person) Melissa Mendelson!
Each month, The Well highlights an amazing (and eligible!) individual.
This month, we have a conversation with NJP Melissa Mendelson!
TW: How did you decide to make your adult life in Metro Detroit?
MM: I was born and raised in Metro Detroit, and I also have a very large extended family that lives in Michigan. I grew up with a passion for the University of Michigan, so attending college there seemed like a no-brainer. After I graduated, I was very lucky that most of my friends remained local, so my decision was easy.
TW: You spend your days working in commercial real estate -- tell us more!
MM: I work in my family business which manages student housing, retail shopping centers, and apartment complexes throughout Metro Detroit and Ann Arbor. My specific role is overseeing accounting and leases for all the properties. Since I am very close with my family it is great to be able to work with them everyday. After undergrad, I attended Walsh Business College where I earned my MBA. This past summer, I acquired my real estate salesperson license.
TW: You studied Sports Management at U of M and we see you're also a huge fan! How did that passion come about?
MM: From a young age I was always really interested in sports (I bleed maize and blue!) When I was trying to figure out what kind of degree I wanted, I thought it would be great to turn my love of sports into a career. During undergrad, I worked for the University of Michigan athletic department, and post-grad I worked in the brand management department for the Detroit Pistons. Ultimately, I decided to leave sports as a career because I didn't want my love of sports to be overshadowed by the demands of my job.
TW: What's your favorite book and what about it moves you?
MM: Something Borrowed. Not only was it an easy read, but it spoke to me about the dangers of remaining passive toward something you want in life. While some of the events in the book are probably a little questionable, I think the larger theme of going after what you want is an important idea for achieving what you want in life
TW: Where would you most like to travel to that you haven't visited?
MM: Traveling is one of my biggest passions, and I've visited many places around the world. Last winter, I fulfilled a dream of traveling to South Africa and Zambia with my family. I would love to continue to see the rest of that continent — Botswana in particular. The people are so friendly and the country is beautiful. There’s something about seeing the animals in their natural habitat and being out in the wilderness. It's very liberating. I would do anything to go back and experience that again.
TW: How do you like to give back to the community / others?
MM: My Bubbie and Zadie instilled in all of their children and grandchildren the importance of giving back, and in being proud of who you are and where you come from. Since I was very young, I have been involved in Magen David Adom and Friends of The Israel Defense Forces (FIDF). Both of these organizations are special to my family because one of my sisters lives in Israel, and my Zadie was a soldier in the Israeli army. They are important causes that are near to my heart. In general, I’m a very nurturing and giving person. I’m the friend that will always be there and have your back, no matter what.
TW: What's your favorite Jewish holiday and why?
MM: Hanukkah for sure. I love the festivities, decorations, celebrating with family, and giving gifts to the people closest to my heart.
TW: Fav Jewish food?
MM: Any of the traditional Jewish foods my Bubbie used to make, but most specifically her mandel bread. The memories of her making it bring me great comfort.
TW: Who is the coolest Jew?
MM: In my opinion, it would be the individual who has had the single biggest impact on my life — my Zadie. Throughout his life, he was able to have such a profound impact on my values and my perspective on the world. After surviving the Holocaust, he served in the IDF before traveling to the United States with almost no resources. In spite of that, he was able to build himself into a success while growing and raising a family. With each conversation you could sense his appreciation for life and taking care of "his people." Now, I represent many of the same values in that I will do anything to support my family, friends, and Jewish community.
TW: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
MM: I am most proud of my undergraduate and graduate degrees. One of my childhood dreams was to be an alumna of the University of Michigan. I’m proud of myself for persevering, achieving both of my degrees, and for all of the lessons that I learned in the process.
TW: Would you rather win an Olympic Medal (for what sport?), an Academy Award (in what category?), or Nobel Prize (in what)?
MM: I have to admit that awards have never been a motivating force for me. Recently, though, I have developed a new passion for tennis. I think winning Wimbledon or the U.S. Open would be pretty cool!
TW: How about a fun fact?
MM: I studied abroad in Fiji and Australia. I’ll never forget the day in Australia when one of our group activities was to go bungee jumping. You had the option of whether or not you wanted to participate. My immediate response was no! While watching my friends jump, one after the other, something lit up inside me. It’s hard to explain exactly how it felt, but it was one of those “I’m in Australia and when will this ever happen to me again” kind of feelings. Even though they required you to sign-up ahead of time, I talked to the company anyway, and I jumped! (I’ll probably never do it again though!)
TW: Best movie ever made, hands down?
MM: I've got a three-way tie between The Sandlot, Titanic, & Love and Basketball.
TW: Finish the sentence: When I go to The Well...
MM: I look forward to meeting new people!