When Melodie Cros came to Valencia at age 21, she had one goal in mind — to dive into a career in audio engineering.
“I loved music, but I always liked being behind the scenes,” says Melodie. When she befriended a sound technician for her favorite band, the Raleigh, N.C. native figured she’d found her calling. “I really loved the whole audio side of it and when he showed me the soundboard, I thought, ‘wow!’ I never really knew that was a job.”
In 2009, she moved to Orlando and enrolled in Valencia’s sound and music technology program. There, she caught on quickly — even winning a national award from the Audio Engineering Society. It didn’t take long for Valencia sound and music technology program director Raul Valery to see Melodie had potential. Valery, a veteran electronics engineer, spent decades working in the music, film and TV industries in Los Angeles, Orlando and Caracas, Venezuela.
“Raul said, ‘Hey, you’re catching onto this more technical side – we’re opening a bachelor’s degree in engineering’ and he suggested I get a degree in engineering,” says Melodie. “I never had a professor who encouraged me like that, so I thought, ‘Well, I do like the more technical part, so that’s ok.’ But I never thought I would be an ‘engineer engineer.’ I figured I’d become a sound engineer.”
Instead, Melodie soon found herself knee-deep in lab reports, circuit analysis and calculus — working toward a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering technology. Today, Melodie is a systems engineer at an international defense contractor.
Looking back, she realizes how much she discovered about herself at Valencia.
“I learned that you really can do anything you set your mind to,” she says. “My whole life, I was always behind in math. Growing up, in middle school and high school, I had teachers who just said, ‘It’s not your thing.’ I discovered that, if you put your mind to it, and you study, you can do it.”
It also helped to have a support system like the one she found in her Valencia professors. “Of course, there were times when I felt discouraged, but all the professors there were very, very helpful. Professor (Masood) Ejaz was always very encouraging and broke it down if you felt overwhelmed. And Charles Davis was my advisor. There were many times that I thought I was on the verge of a panic attack and he would let me just sit in his office, cry in the corner and calm down. He said, ‘You can do this; you’re not going to fail.’ ”
Her parents, as one might imagine, are incredibly proud of her — and thankful to Raul Valery, who saw her potential and encouraged her.
“My parents are so thankful to Raul too,” says Melodie, laughing. “Every day they say, ‘Have you seen Raul? Tell him we say thank you.’ ”