‘Writing Emotion’ at Hallmark

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Jason Tracy

If you’ve been to a wedding, baby shower, funeral, or birthday party in the last 13 years, you’ve probably crossed paths with Melvina Young ’90, MS’92, PhDx’07. She’s a quiet party presence — she usually arrives hidden in an envelope — but Young’s voice always leaves a heartfelt impression on the guests of honor.

Young is a senior creative writer at Hallmark, where she says she writes much more than greeting cards. “I write emotion across formats that have deep, authentic resonance for people,” she says. “I write gift and children’s books, internet content, keepsake copy, women’s empowerment editorial, and for Hallmark’s community-support efforts. I believe in the company’s mission to touch every life in a meaningful way.”

Young’s work is infused with a sincere sense of compassion for people who are experiencing major milestones. She writes regularly for Hallmark’s Mahogany collection, aimed at African American consumers, and credits her ability to craft personal messages that resonate with diverse communities to both her personal background and her academic training. Young grew up in rural Lepanto, Arkansas, during segregation, and she enrolled at the UW in the late 1980s, an era when campus was roiling from a series of racial incidents. She participated in the student movement that resulted in a new Multicultural Student Center and an ethnic studies requirement for all undergraduates, among other diversity and inclusion initiatives.

“I went to campus and found a language for things that explained my lived experience and helped me formulate an identity built in strength,” she says. “Everything you encounter is what makes you.”

Young also found faculty mentors at the UW who encouraged her to transition from activist to academic, and she earned a master’s degree in African American studies and completed PhD coursework in women’s history and U.S. history. She then left Madison to become a college instructor and eventually landed in Kansas City, Missouri, where she decided to apply her skills in a different industry.

“In my scholarship and teaching, I focused on relationships from a broad socio-historical perspective because I felt if you could understand the root causes of certain injustices and relationships, then you could build connections and coalitions that would actually effect change,” she says. “I discovered at Hallmark, I could actually achieve a similar goal through words that touch people emotionally one to one.”

Published in the Summer 2019 issue

Tags: Alumni, Arts, career

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