In 2005, Melissa Walker earned her degree in Vocal Performance from BYU-Hawaii. Now, after earning two graduate degrees and spearheading humanitarian aid half a world away, Dr. Melissa Walker Glenn returns to BYU-Hawaii as Assistant Professor of Voice. Says Dr. Glenn, “My time at BYU-Hawaii profoundly touched and changed me. I am honored to again be a part of this great school and music program.”
“We couldn’t be happier to have Melissa join us,” said Dan Bradshaw, Music Department chair. “She has many strengths that will contribute significantly to what we’re doing here. One thing that really impressed us was the way she connects with students as she teaches. In just a few minutes with a student, she helps their performance blossom into something wonderful.” Dr. Glenn has many qualifications. After earning her bachelors degree at BYUH, she completed a masters degree at the prestigious Eastman School of Music and a doctorate at Arizona State University. In addition, she has performed numerous roles in both opera and musical theatre, and has soloed with the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra and the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra.
As part of her doctoral work, Glenn commissioned a song cycle to spread awareness of childhood sex trafficking in India. She raised $20,000 of grant funds and donations, enlisted volunteers, and collaborated with faculty in many fields and across campuses. In January of 2009 she travelled with an English professor to Calcutta and Delhi where they taught poetry workshops with children rescued from trafficking. Ten of the poems were selected and set to music by Canadian composer Dr. Gerard Yun. Then, in 2011, two benefit concerts were organized that were able to raise money for the organizations and awareness of the issue occurring both locally and internationally.
Did her BYUH experience have anything to do with her concern for peace internationally? Glenn is not shy about how she is “passionate about BYU-Hawaii and its mission.” She continues, “President McKay’s prophetic statement that the men and women who go forth from this school’s ‘influence will be felt for good toward the establishment of peace internationally,’ has sunk deep into my heart and inspired and instructed my actions.”
How are BYUH students responding to Dr. Glenn? Her ability to relate to students emerges in their comments. “She is personable and relatable. Because she has those characteristics, it’s easier to feel comfortable while working with her,” says her student, Emily Ogden. Another student, Brinley Barrett, says “I love her! I’ve learned a ton from her. She doesn’t let you get away with not doing assignments, but still maintains a laid back classroom setting.”
“One of Dr. Glenn’s strength is her genuine concern for students. She cares about their progress and wants them to succeed in their chosen career,” says Bradshaw. “For instance, we’ll start a class next Fall called ‘Careers in Music,’ which will help students transition from the world of education to the world of making a living as musicians. This class is really Melissa’s brainchild. She is serious about helping students succeed.”
In addition to her professional career, Glenn is passionate about her family. She is married to David Glenn and they have two young boys, Andrew and Adam. She also enjoys family history. With pioneer ancestry on both sides of her family, she enjoys the challenge of discovering names that are not yet found. Glenn also served a mission in Venezuela, where she developed a love of the culture and continues to have a soft spot for salsa dancing.
Given her past accomplishments, her concern for students and her drive to bring others peace through music, Dr. Glenn’s return to BYU–Hawaii adds a new dimension to a vibrant music program. Welcome back, Dr. Glenn!