By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE – Melanie Collette believes that all Black voices should be heard for a complete picture of the African American community.
As host of her own podcast, “Money Talk with Melanie,” and her recent national appearance to talk about Black History Month on Newsmax, the South Jersey resident said knows the importance of painting that full image.
“While I have always leaned right, I started off my political involvement as an independent because I didn’t want to be labeled,” Collette told Front Runner New Jersey.com. “In my early 30s I stopped listening to music on my way to work and began listening to talk shows like Glenn Beck. I agreed with much of what he would say in principle and realized I was more conservative than independent.
“The real switch came when I began volunteering for local campaigns, the first of which was as a treasure for a local mayoral campaign,” Collette said.
She ran for office herself in 2013, becoming the first African American to win a major party endorsement in Middle Township in her run for committeeman.
“Even though I lost the race, the campaign, as well as additional volunteer work, got me noticed by the state and national Republican organizations,” Collette said. “I was introduced to the New Jersey Federation of Republican Women by a mentor, Lynda Pagliughi.
“I currently serve as the first vice chair for that organization. Another mentor, Mayor Tim Donohue introduced me to Cape May County GOP (CapeGOP), where I currently serve as vice-chair. I also serve on the Diversity Committee for the National Federation of Republican Women,” she added.
Recently, Collette was honored by the Garden State Boy Scouts of America for her community work. Collette spent time volunteer teaching girls STEM concepts in collaboration with The American Association of University Women and Stockton University.
“I was nominated by Freeholder Marie Hayes, who I have worked with on the Cape May County Women’s Commission. I also did social media for her last political campaign.
I learned about the award about a month before the ceremony, so around mid-November.”
Collette serves as a commissioner with the Cape May County Women’s Commission, a group she’s passionate about because its mission centers around the needs of women and girls in Cape May County.
She said she find her presence important to install knowledge to future generations.
“I have to be honest, I have never considered myself to be a role model in the community. As an educator, I take very seriously my position as a role model in the classroom,” Collette said. “There are very few black, female teachers in comparison to black females students in the geographic areas I’ve taught throughout my career in education. Further, I have taught in some districts where I was some students’ first black teacher. These facts add additional pressure to set a good example as a professional, a teacher, and a role model.”
Money Talk with Melanie
Collette starring role as a podcast host with “MoneyTalk with Melanie” started as an idea by Kenneth McClenton at The Exceptional Conservative Network.
“I believe he got the idea because I am a business technology educator and adjunct professor,” Collette said. “Classes that I teach include economics, financial literacy, and computer applications. He and I met when I was a panelist at an event in D.C. discussing the legacy of Nannie Helen Burroughs.
“There was a liberal, and independent, and a conservative, me, on the panel. I am currently revamping MoneyTalk with Melanie to discuss more politics and economics, and how they intersect,” she said.
Work to be Done
Collette said she believes there’s “so much work” to be done in politics and African Americans should not be left out, or have only some of their voices heard.
“When I hear complaints from people who don’t bother to vote, research the issues or offer themselves as volunteers, I think it is important to remind them that change does not come from the outside complaining,” Collette said. “Change has to come from within. Therefore, whatever are complaints about the state of the world or the country – we need to ask ourselves how we are contributing.
“African Americans in particular need to be involved more because our vote is often taken for granted. We are viewed as a voting block, ‘the black vote,’ rather than as individuals. The reason for this is simple — we have a long history of voting for a single party and that has to stop. Then and only then will the powers that be view us as free-thinking individuals instead of a monolith that votes according to the color or our skin,” she continued.
Who inspires Collette today?
“Although we have never met, I am in awe of and inspired by Condoleezza Rice,” Collette said. “Her background and her many accomplishments inspire me to want to be better professionally.
On a personal level, as an aspiring Christian, I am surrounded by brothers and sisters who are knowledgeable about the word of God and who live it despite trials and tribulations that might stand in their way.
“I use the word, ‘aspiring’ as I feel like I fall so short of my personal goals as a Christian. My Christian brothers and sisters from all over the country inspire me to be a better person. But this is a very important part of my life and one of the reasons I am a Republican – the Republican platform most closely fits my Christian beliefs,” she added.
The Rest Of the Story
Collette share other thoughts during her interview with FRNJ:
FRNJ: Tell me about your family and where you are from. Just anything you would like to share.
Melanie Collette: I am originally from Philly but moved to South Jersey when I was 10. When I was 21, I promptly moved back to the Philadelphia area. I moved back to Cape May Court House where I currently live. I have been back here for about 15 years to pursue a career change to teaching and be closer to family. I attended Stockton University and the University of Phoenix during my undergrad. I completed my master’s degree at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
FRNJ: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Melanie Collette: In five years I hope to have completed my PhD in business, which I started a couple of years ago. I am currently taken a break from my studies and hope to be back on track soon. Upon completion of my PhD and after retirement from public school teaching, I hope to obtain a full-time job as a professor.
Collette can be found on social media via:
Host, MoneyTalk with Melanie on www.SHRMedia.com
YouTube: MoneyTalk with Melanie
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