Inspirational Women in Media and Communications: Dr. Melissa Tingle


As one of the newest additions to the Mass Communications Department at Piedmont, Dr. Melissa Tingle has made quite the impact on her students. She teaches with such energy and passion that the average person wouldn’t expect this career wasn’t her first choice.

Tingle teaches at Piedmont College. PHOTO / OLIVIA MORLEY

Tingle started out as a piano performance major at UGA, but due to a number of challenges and drawbacks, she had to drop out.  She eventually decided to go back to help support her family and enrolled in Mercer’s adult program. Tingle would look after her young daughters during the day and go to class at night.

“I selected communications by a happy accident. I had a teacher that taught communications and absolutely loathed him,” Tingle said. “I wanted to go into the world of communications and prove everything he said wrong. I wanted to challenge his views of reality, communication, and humanity, and it sparked a fire in me.”

Tingle went on to pursue her Master’s degree at Marist College, while being a stay at home mother to her eldest daughter and being pregnant with her oldest daughter.

“It was a hybrid program that had some courses online and some in class,” she said. “I got to go up to New York frequently and my graduation was on the Hudson River. That was where I was exposed to strategic communication, which is leadership communication, organization communication, public relations, etc.”

It was at this point that Tingle decided to become a professor of communication and go on to pursue her Ph.D. in strategic communication. She began working as an adjunct professor at different colleges, because, “when you first start teaching, you grab any job you can get, especially as a woman.”

While working as a visiting professor at a college in middle Georgia, she began working on her Ph.D. in Regent University’s online program. She would focus heavily on research and studied workplace dynamics through the perspective of gender studies and race relations.

Tingle pursued her higher degrees as a non-traditional student while raising two daughters and living as a single mother. It was very difficult for her as a woman who wanted to have a fulfilling career and be a good mother at the same time. “You want to be the queen of both worlds and excel in both worlds as a super mom and a professor and I really struggled to find that balance.”

Not only did Tingle face some gender prejudice from her colleagues, but also age prejudice, as she was rather young and pursuing such a difficult career.

“I was overlooked for a lot of promotions and positions,” she said. “I was not taken seriously in some instances and I realized I had to grow a thick skin, find ways to communicate my credibility to my gender instead of reaffirming stereotypes.”

Tingle joined Piedmont College in the fall of 2018 and currently works as an assistant professor. She teaches web design, public speaking and public relations, and starting in the coming fall, a new mass communications class on research and theory. She hopes to continue inspiring her students and encouraging them to pursue whatever they want in communications, as long as they realize that things won’t be easy, regardless of who you are.

“We all have our own obstacles and baggage, but women are unique because we try to fulfill so many roles and wear so many hats, that sometimes we can’t see the forest through the trees,” she said. “So take a step back, take a deep breath, and know that the right fit in the workplace and your family and your career goals will happen. It’ll just take some time.”