January Alumni Spotlight: Melissa Spikes Archer ‘00

Name: Melissa Spikes Archer
Grad Year: 2000
Program: Nursing
Current Title: Community Education Specialist, Family Help Center & RN, Supplemental Health Care

In Her Own Words:

Like many high school graduates, I attended college with aspirations. I had hoped to become a physician, join the military and travel the world. However, the universe had different plans. I was a divorced mother of two wonderful daughters. Although, I did join the military and went to college, my other aspirations were on hold.

While working a factory job and living paycheck to paycheck, one day I heard about Trocaire College on the radio. Nursing seemed like an interesting avenue to explore and I would finally be able to enter the medical profession. I wondered how I would juggle being an active parent, paying bills, and complete this RN program, but took a leap of faith and jumped right in!

Luckily, Sister Marian Mullen, the Dean of Students at the time, was there to help me every step of the way. She was such a support and it was a turning point in my life. Sister Marian took the time to listen and encouraged me to apply for scholarship support. As a single mom, the scholarship I earned and the family-like atmosphere at Trocaire helped me excel and complete the RN program.

The clinical instructors I worked with thoroughly prepared me for real-life nursing. Out in the real world, Trocaire graduates are sought out and highly respected. Throughout my two-decade career as a RN, I could always tell who was a Trocaire graduate—they have compassion down to a science.

After Trocaire, I earned my BSN and am now working towards a Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner degree. My goal is to be a change agent in everything I do, while also highlighting the importance of mental health.

I currently work as a community education specialist at the Family Help Center, a multi-service non-profit that provides family crisis intervention and support services in Erie County. I lead parenting classes and educational seminars and provide pre/peri/postnatal support. Just like Sister Marian did for me, I am there to listen and help parents dealing with challenging circumstances.

In addition, I have a supervisor role in a nursing home. In these times of the COVID-19 pandemic, my staff and patients are burned out. The patients are isolated and cannot see their families face to face. The staff and I do everything we can to make a connection with them, whether it is singing to them or reading a few pages of their favorite book. We just want to create a moment of happiness and use this as a coping mechanism to alleviate their stress. This helps the staff deal with stress as well.

Thinking back over 20 years ago, I never would have imagined a Trocaire commercial would have so positively transformed my life. Today, I am happily married to Dr. Fred D. Archer III. Together, we have 3 wonderful children and 3 grand-fur babies who give us life every day. I have had the opportunity to serve on multiple boards, committees, mentor Trocaire students through the Pathways Program, create a scholarship for deserving students, and so much more.

My advice to anyone looking for a better life or career change: look no further than Trocaire. No matter your focus, do it and now!

For those of you already working or new to your profession, do self-care every day and make sure your physical and mental health are healthy. Especially during these challenging times of a pandemic and political and social unrest. It is important to check in so we don’t check out!

Trocaire means everything to me—it is where my start began. My education gave me the personal fortitude, voice, and confidence to make a better life for me and my family. I will always carry on Trocaire’s Mercy values in everything I do and hope to serve as inspiration for the next generation of healthcare professionals.