Melanie Waldman, is a resident of Egg Harbor Township and a member of EHTHS Class of ’09.
After graduating in 2013 from Rutgers University-New Brunswick as a double major with bachelor's degrees in journalism and in media and theatre. Waldman began a career in commercial TV, film and advertising for KMR Talent and Gamut Management. She is also a yoga instructor.
Where she’s been and where she’s going, in her own words:
I’ve had the pleasure of working in Walt Disney World with the Disney College Program. I loved my time there. However, it wasn’t very long after my move to Florida that my life began to take a drastic change. I was working hard at Disney and playing and enjoying the parks equally as much. Basically, I wore myself too thin, pretty quickly, and began to show symptoms of having chronic joint pain and exhaustion. A few months later, I was diagnosed with having Lupus SLE.
Unfortunately, my program with Disney was ultimately cut short when I was hospitalized for having a blood clot in the artery of my right wrist, which was cutting off the circulation to my hand. I later suffered from an extremely rare reaction to heparin, known as a HIT (heparin induced thrombocytopenia). A few days later, my right forearm, just below the elbow, was amputated, as a result of that reaction.
Amputation wasn’t a choice, but at that point it was suggested to me that I’d live a happier life without my hand. Though, yes, I was right-handed. Still to this day, I wouldn’t change that decision for a second. To me, I believe my limb difference doesn’t make me any bit less-than, it only emphasizes my inner persistence.
Now in this time, celebrating my disability while in social isolation does feel a little strange. Yet somehow this feeling isn’t completely unfamiliar to me. During my time in the hospital, seven years ago at the time of my amputation, I was held in the hospital, in three ICUs over a period of 30 days. In the years since, I’ve had multiple surgeries that have left me to recover at home with my family, but isolated from most of the outside world. This is something I’ve learned to manage, as a “spoonie” (in having lupus flares), over the years as well.
To me, social distancing has become a part of my survival skill set. It’s embedded in my bones. To the people with disabilities, spoonies (look it up), stay at home moms, anyone that has had to endure their own sense of isolation before this knows that same familiar feeling. It what makes us resilient, resistant and relentless in this battle against time. Yoga has taught me so much about myself in this time and has helped me to connect with a sense of comfort in the discomfort. Which is exactly where I live today. The in-between.
I am beyond grateful for the limb different and disability communities that I have been connected with over this time. Finding a commonality in our adversities is a beautiful perspective on this life — so the in between is where I will stay, and find my own happy ending in this chaotic mess of time.”
Share your story!
Maybe you chose a traditional academic path, or perhaps you took the road less traveled and blazed your own trail. Regardless of how you got to where you are today, we are grateful to you for putting Egg Harbor Township School District on the map, making a difference in the world, and for helping us become better educators. In each edition, we hope to share your stories, inspire opportunities for you to reconnect with us, and invite you to participate in exciting things happening in the Egg Harbor Township School District.
Q & A with Melanie Waldman
What would your former classmates be surprised to know about you? That I became an amputee in 2013, due to a medical trauma known as a heparin-induced thrombocytopenia.
Do you feel that EHTHS coursework prepared you for your future career? If so, how?
Absolutely, I feel like I was really able to focus in on the subjects that now matter the most to me: English, journalism and theater.
Which EHT teachers, coaches, advisers and staff members best prepared you for life and a career upon graduation?
Mr. Guenther, Mrs. Elko, Mr. Buhrman and Mrs. Finnegan. I felt lucky enough to know staff members at EHTHS who not only supported me, but also challenged me to be a "growing mind."
What is your favorite school memory while you were a student in the EHT School District? I loved the final week of school — I feel like I remember that the most — senior week. It was great to spend that time with everyone that I grew up with and came to know during my time as a student in the district.
Extra-curricular activities at EHTHS:
Class Council, Drama Club, musical, vocal ensemble, yearbook
Easterseals Disability Film Challenge, Amputee Coalition of America, Lucky Fin Project
Filmmaking, networking with other amputees, working as a ‘professional background actor.’
Marital Status: Single
Any additional information you would like to share?
I just received my first multifunctional (robotic) myoelectric prosthetic hand!
Share your story!
Maybe you chose a traditional academic path, or perhaps you took the road less traveled and blazed your own trail. Regardless of how you got to where you are today, we are grateful to you for putting Egg Harbor Township School District on the map, making a difference in the world, and for helping us become better educators. In each edition, we hope to share your stories, inspire opportunities for you to reconnect with us, and invite you to participate in exciting things happening in the Egg Harbor Township School District. Send email inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.