Melissa Phillips is making her mark in the pageant world, and New York City as she works towards her life goals. Born to both a Guyanese mother and father in Brooklyn, NY the conditions of her environment shaped her perspective on the past and future.
Understanding family traditions of honest work, principles of education and the necessity to remember humble beginnings, she worked to succeed in life. She attended St. Augustine’s Episcopal school, and worked towards attending a performing arts institution for her intermediate years. After being accepted to I.S. 96 magnet, Melissa honed her vocal and dance ability. This led her to the John Dewey Dance Ensemble in high school, an experience that gave way to travel, performance, and work with renowned choreographers and dancers.
In lieu of a family decision, the family moved to Kissimmee, Florida during Melissa’s final years of high school. In 2010, Melissa graduated from Florida State University with a dual degree in Communications and English.
During her time at Florida State she served as the vice president of the Caribbean Students Association, director of Student Broadcast Center, Continuity Writer for V89 Radio Station, a member of ONYX Dance Company, the Leaf Theatre Ensemble and won the titles of Miss Black & Gold, and Miss Florida Caribbean Student.
Melissa also worked for the Walt Disney Company, and interned on television shows for VH1, MTV and CMT. Deciding to shift career focus, Melissa joined the Teach for America and was placed in Miami, Florida at Miami Northwestern Senior High School. She worked in her placement with Intensive Reading and Writing students. Considering this her most valuable life experience, this career path became permanent, and fostered a desire to return to Brooklyn and work within her home community. She currently attends NYU, working towards a Masters of Arts in Educational Theatre and English Education.
Melissa hopes to charter an urban arts institution to address the needs of students in low-income schools by fusing literacy and arts education with the focus of embracing diversity and multi-ethnic education. She also hopes to formulate a Caribbean-Diasporic Dance company, as well as perform throughout her lifetime.
As a result of her academic and professional endeavors, Melissa has lived abroad, traveling to London, Edinburgh, Paris, and most recently Puerto Rico. Recounting these many blessings, Melissa understands the weight of her responsibility to her family and community.
Melissa’s journey in the Miss America organization began in Florida and will conclude in New York as she finishes her last year in the system. Her focus during her year of service as Miss Metropolitan will be to break the cycle of inter-generational incarceration while partnering with the Brooklyn based foundation Children of Promise.
“My family is my glow, Melissa shared. They have truly made every sacrifice to develop my dreams, my grandmothers, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins have helped to raise me, pitching in any way possible. That is our culture and heritage, one of love and support. I’m proud to be Guyanese-American, and I’m lucky as well.”