The Eagle Eye Alumni Newsletter
Vol. 5 - SUMMER 2020
MEET MELANIE WALDMAN
Certified Yoga Instructor, Professional Actor, Small-Time Producer of Short Films, and Creator of Her Own Youtube Channel, ‘whereswaldman’
Meet Melanie Waldman, EHTHS Class of ’09 and resident of Egg Harbor Township.
After graduating in 2013 from Rutgers University-New Brunswick as a double major with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Journalism/Media and Theatre, Melanie 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’s 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 & 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 H.I.T. (Heparin induced thrombocytopenia). A few days later, my right forearm, just below the elbow was amputated, as a result of my 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.
Social Distancing ...
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 3 ICU’s 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, 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 comfort in the discomfort. Which is exactly where I live today. The in-between.
I am beyond grateful for the limb different & 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.”
Q & A with Melanie
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 theatre.
Which EHT Teachers/Coaches/Advisors/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!
CHRIS HEACOCK - CLASS OF 1998
Meet Chris Heacock, Battalion Chief of Atlanticare’s Paramedic Unit and
First Point of Contact Front-Line Heroes
Chris Heacock, EHTHS class of 1998, is the Paramedic Battalion Chief at AtlantiCare Health Systems/AtlantiCare Emergency Medical Services. In that capacity, Chris is responsible for supervising daily operations for the hospital’s Emergency Medical Services in Atlantic and Cape May counties.
As Battalion Chief and part of the hospital’s patient care team, Chris oversees Advanced Life Support for patients in pre- and inter-hospital emergency settings, under the direction of a Medical Command Physician. Skilled at the AHA instructor level in Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), Chris also holds credentials in Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Critical Care transport, and Healthcare Management.
Entering the workforce upon graduation from EHTHS, Chris simultaneously pursued his higher education goals. He received his Associate’s Degree in Paramedic Science and his Paramedic certification from Camden County College, and his Bachelor of Science Degree in Health Administration from University of Phoenix. He is currently working on his MBA through University of Phoenix.
Chris received his first degree Black Belt in 2001, and is a member of the Atlantic County Planning Advisory Board, which serves to advise and consult with the Division of Planning on all matters relating to county planning, such as development of the Official Map, the County Master Plan, and proposed amendments to the Water Quality Management Plan Ordinance.
Chris is married with two children. He and his family reside in Egg Harbor Township.
Q & A with Chris
What would your former classmates be most surprised to know about you?
That I am a freemason
Do you feel that EHTHS coursework prepared you for your future career? If so, how?
I believe EHTHS and the school system gives its students lots of opportunities to prepare for the future through coursework, school clubs, and extra-curricular activities. It’s up to the student to take advantage -- and their families to encourage taking advantage of -- those opportunities.
What could EHTHS do better to prepare current high school students for the future?
I graduated over 20 years ago, so I couldn’t accurately give an opinion on this as I’m sure curriculums have changed over time. It would benefit all students to have a mandatory home economics class and exposure to trade careers.
What clubs, extra-curricular activities, and/or honors did you receive while at EHTHS?
German Club, Medical Explorer Post #147 (Shore Medical Center), Yi’s Karate, Parkway Skating Club, Excellence Award/Shore Medical Center Medical Explorer Post #147
Which Egg Harbor Township teachers/coaches/advisors/staff members best prepared you for life and a career upon graduation?
Mr. Michael Coyne. While Mr. Coyne taught my elective media class, he offered some words of wisdom in list forms titled “Coyne’s guide to life” with many relevant pearls of wisdom. I still have a copy saved.
What is your favorite school memory while a student in the Egg Harbor Township School District?
EHT has a diverse group of students with a multitude of cultural and economic backgrounds. Those differences seemed to blur when groups of friends were in class, and hanging out together in between and after class. We knew we were all different, but no one pointed it out and no one seemed to care.
Master Mason and member of Trinity Lodge #79, member of Galloway/Absecon Rotary Club, K9 handler for search and rescue operations
Professional Organization Memberships:
Member of the Atlantic County Planning Advisory Board
National Registry of EMTs
Welcome to the 5th Edition of The Eagle Eye!
Egg Harbor Township Schools launched the Alumni Association for a few reasons:
- To find out what roads you chose to follow;
- To see where you are now in your careers and your lives, and what interesting steps you took along the way to get where you are today;
- To gauge your feelings on how Egg Harbor Township Schools prepared you for your journey.
We also want to know what you think we can do better NOW to prepare current students for their future!
HOW CAN YOU SUPPORT EHT SCHOOLS?
Follow the Egg Harbor Township Education Foundation at https://www.facebook.com/EHTEducationFoundation/and the Community Partnership for Egg Harbor Township Schools, Inc. at https://www.facebook.com/communitypartnershipEHT/ to learn about upcoming events they are planning that benefit student scholarships, teacher mini-grants, capital projects, extra-curricular activities, instructional technology, and academic enhancement.
CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC & MENTAL HEALTH
(Submitted by our friends at the Mental Health Association in Atlantic County)
The Mental Health Association in Atlantic County offers a variety of virtual wellness initiatives, support group meetings and discussion groups. More than 30 virtual meetings are offered each week on a wide range of topics. Some groups and meetings are focused on wellness topics such as gratitude, stress management and coping with COVID.
There are also groups for individuals living with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and hoarding disorder. Other groups are focused on people with similar experiences and needs such as parents, individuals age 18-30, veterans, survivors of suicide, the LGBTQ community, college students, individuals living with a disability and those experiencing grief and loss. The agency also provides meetings in Spanish.
A complete list is available online www.mhaac.info and https://www.mhanj.org/virtual-support-and-learning-opportunities/. Meetings are offered 7 days a week at a variety of times of day.
For more information, call 609 652-3800 or find details on Facebook - Mental Health Association in Atlantic County or Instagram @mhaac.info.
In addition to the virtual groups, the Mental Health Association in New Jersey's Call Center is providing free emotional support for those affected by COVID. Call-in and text options are available. Text NJHOPE to 51684 or call 866-202-HELP (4357). This service is provided 7 days a week 8 am to 8 pm.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE FEATURED IN AN UPCOMING EDITION OF THE EAGLE EYE?
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.
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