The college decision process was an easy one for Mel Dorrough Robinson ’52.
Alabama College, now known as the University of Montevallo, was the only college with a degree in social work in Alabama at the time. Montevallo was also close to home for Robinson, which was important because she took care of her mother living nearby every other weekend.
Though it was an easy decision for her, Robinson quickly learned it was certainly the best one as well.
“Montevallo was a lovely campus with nice faculty and great students,” Robinson said. “I felt at home immediately and sent my application in. I never regretted it! I knew it was my place to be for a degree. UM was the basis for my future.”
Robinson immediately found success in her field after graduating with a degree in social work.
“I hated to leave my friends, but time marches on and I had to get going,” Robinson said. “I picked the two best places in social work to apply for a job, passed the state exam and waited to hear the results. Both offices accepted me, and I picked the office in Gadsden.”
Social work left a significant impression on Robinson. Her desire to make an impact in the field can still be seen today through the Mel Dorrough Robinson Scholarship in Social Work offered to current UM students.
“I just love the town and would love to move back there,” Robinson said. “Having more students in social work is my goal.”
After working in the social work field for several years in Alabama, Massachusetts and Colorado, Robinson decided to return home to Birmingham and start a new adventure.
“After moving back to Birmingham, I developed a real estate investment company with my late husband Pete,” Robinson said. “The company is MPR, Ltd., which stands for Mel and Pete Robinson.”
Mark, the son of Mel and Pete, continues to lead the company today. Mark ’82, and his wife, Patricia ’84, are UM graduates as well. Robinson’s hobbies of being around family, reading bulletins from medical schools in the U.S., working on word puzzle books and listening to the news around the world daily, keep her busy.
Robinson looks back fondly on her time on the red brick streets, where she served as a Gold Side cheerleader for four years, worked with faculty and made friends from all around the world.
“I hardly had a free day,” Robinson said, “but it was worth it!”
She also has a lot of wisdom to pass on to the next generation of UM students, including make sure to take time in decision making and don’t worry as worrying doesn’t solve any problems.
“My advice to students is to work hard, help your professors, enjoy College Night, make friends and always give back money to help others,” Robinson said. “My mom would always tell me as I was walking out the door, ‘Be Sweet Mel.’ It’s important to be kind to one another.”