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Aloha!

I am 9 days away from taking off on the adventure of a lifetime, and I could not be more excited! If you want the low down on all things Melissa, here it is:

I just graduated from Pittsburg State University with a degree in commercial graphics: photography. I love portrait photography the most because it is one of the only jobs where you get to see people smile all day long! I am currently moving to Hawaii to work for Norwegian Cruise Line's Hawaiian cruise as a shipboard photographer. The swiss family robinson treehouse is my dream home, and I would love to be a member of the Brady or Huxtable family for a day. I am a die hard Kansas City Chiefs and Royals fan, and I believe that football ranks supreme over all other sports. I am never satisfied with routine, and I am always looking for an adventure. God has blessed me with the most amazing friends and family I could have ever hoped or dreamed of. If it weren't for them, none of this would be happening. They deserve a little recognition, and all the thanks in the world! It is definitely hard leaving them, but they are all so supportive of me, which is just part of what makes them so great!
My parents (and step parents) have raised me in a way that can be summed up in one word as phenomenal. I have learned so much from them about God, education, business, and all of the life in between. They have encouraged me to fearlessly pursue my dreams, which has been such a priceless gift. I am so grateful for everything they have done for me. I know I have been a handful, but I believe that is why God gave me 4 parents instead of 2!

My siblings are amazing as well, all 7 of them! Kristen, Kelly, Lucas, Bryce, Annie, Hannah, and Sarah have been little blessings in my life. I have loved every moment from playing Polly Pockets, building blanket forts, and constructing lego cities, to sharing all of our joys, fears, dreams, and relationships. We have 8 different personalities and 8 different opinions, but it is the times that we hike up mountains, or laugh hysterically while baking cookies together that mean the most. They are the best, and when they are not near by, my amazing friends have stepped in as my family away from home.
Erin... Erin is the complete package. Not only is she incredibly intelligent, but she is drop dead gorgeous, and has the personality to boot. I met Erin through our sorority, Sigma Sigma Sigma. We only met in college, but by now, she knows everything about me. People have been quoted saying "I am going to tell you something that you can't tell anyone, except Erin, because I know you tell her everything." We can often be found road tripping across the country, grabbing a late night treat, or using remotes and spatulas as microphones. Our friendship is simply unexplainable, and that is precisely what makes it so special.
Gabe... Our friendship is 100% random and 100% awesome. Ask anyone, and they will tell you that the friendship Gabe and I have cannot be put into words. We both bring out the total goofball in each other, and nothing we do can ever be described as boring. The time we spend together is one laugh out loud Kodak moment after another. We celebrate half birthdays, memorize all the lines of our favorite movies, and sing way too loud with the radio. Gabe is the friend that will drop whatever he is doing to take off on the crazy adventures I cook up, no questions asked. Then he is also there with 7up, kleenex, medicine, and a blanket the minute I say I don't feel well. Simply put, I don't know what I would do without him, and I am sure glad I don't have to find out!Amanda... Amanda is the trooper of the group. If friendships were a race, she would be the marathon. I met Amanda in 6th grade, and we connected over our doodling abilities in language arts class. We have seen each other through thick and thin, and all the laughter and tears that come with growing up. I love that Amanda may be the only girl that loves football as much as I do. Not to mention, she can craft with the best of them! ( You should see her dining room table!) Plus, she makes the best Kraft macaroni and cheese I have ever had, hands down. Most of all, I love that Amanda challenges me. She knows my potential and won't let me settle for anything less, and for that I am so grateful.Michael... Michael and I make up the powerhouse pair known as the dynamic duo. He is one of the most passionate people I know, and I am inspired by the 110% effort he puts into everything he is a part of. When we get along, we are unstoppable. When we disagree, I think the whole earth shakes a little, but it keeps us on our toes! The list of reasons we are such good friends is endless, including our supreme intelligence, incredibly good looks, the fly vehicles we drive, our awesome families, and our love of sports. Above all, Michael and I can have entire converstions without ever saying a word. It may confuse everyone around us, but having a friend that understands you on that level is rare, and I am so blessed to have found that in Michael.
Meghan... Meghan, Meghan, Meghan was the first person I met at Pitt State. She checked me into the residence halls, and ended up being my R.A. Not only did she help me survive freshman year, she has been with me every step of the way since, and has become one of my closest friends. Meghan has a heart of gold, and a dedication that is unmatched. I have visited Miss Crayons' classroom, and it takes a special kind of person to spend all day everyday with those little hooligans. Meghan has been like an older sister and a mentor to me. Although she only likes even numbers, she let's me get away with telling her everything in threes!
Matt... I have known Matt since high school. In the beginning, I taught him how to forge notes to get out of class, and he has lived life by his own rules ever since. Matt stays far away from the status quo, and his acting and musical talents are going to make him famous someday. I am in awe of the way he passionately pursues his dreams with reckless abandonment. When we are together, Matt's quick wit and sense of humor are guaranteed to make me laugh uncontrollably. We have that rare kind of friendship that can pick up right where it left off no matter how many days or miles come between us. I am comforted knowing that we are both going places, but wherever life takes us, the other is just a Skype call away!
Kelly... Kelly has adopted more nicknames from me than any other friend, and she responds to all of them. I met Kelly through Sigma Sigma Sigma, but we truly bonded over Sonic happy hours and countless spontaneous adventures. Although Kelly transferred schools after freshman year, we have remained very close. I think it is our love of Disney movies and ability to gab on the phone that keeps our friendship strong. Kelly and I often catch ourselves talking about anything and everything. She is a burst of energy and an incredible friend.Andy... Andy is a high-strung, detail oriented, perfectionist, which makes him the exact opposite of me. We disagree about 75% of the time, but that is what makes our friendship tick. I met Andy in the dorms freshman year, and ever since, he has continued to reveal to me the other side of the story. I regularly visit Andy to clear my head and speak my mind because I know he is not the person to constantly agree with me. Instead, Andy challenges me to open my eyes to other perspectives and possibilities. Sometimes Andy gets caught taking life too seriously, which makes him an easy target for all of our practical jokes. At the end of the day, his strong work ethic and dedication to education earn him a ticket on the train to success.Lauren... Lauren is my little sister in Sigma Sigma Sigma, and Lauren has a gift. She is filled with a contagious compassion for every person she encounters. She has never met a stranger, and is constantly seeking the person alone in the corner of the room. She cares for them, gets to know them, and invites them to be a part of whatever is going on. Lauren is also an amazing dancer, and anyone that knows Lauren has seen her desire to make everyone around her smile. Lauren has taught me so many things about the unconditional love that is best used when shared with others. I am so glad I can call her a sister and a friend.

Once again, thank you so much for all you do! I have so many people in my life that have been so wonderful to me, and this little blog is not big enough for all of them. I can not wait to keep you all up to date on all the happenings. Stay tuned for the legendary adventures that are about to take place, as I set out on my own. I hope Hawaii is ready for me!

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