ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Melissa Adams, establishing donor of The Adams International Internship Endowment

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Melissa Adams, establishing donor of The Adams International Internship Endowment

More than a decade after Blake Adams graduated CSULB in 2009, his mother felt the need to give back. Inspired by the scholarship her son received to study art in Florence, Italy and her own travel experience, Adams was inspired to establish The Adams International Internship Endowment, which allows students to help fund their internships abroad. On her motivations for donating, Adams said, “I want to provide a bridge from university classrooms to adult life that will enable students to further their education through immersive experiences in their area of study, as well as in other cultures.”

After starting her college career majoring in art, Melissa switched to English after receiving perfect scores on both the English SAT and the English Advanced Placement Exam. She graduated cum laude from UCLA in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in English. Post-graduation, she has continued learning through workshops on creativity, writing and photography, but believes her real education has been “outside the classroom (and often my comfort zone), learning about people through travel.”

After beginning her career as a travel writer for the American Automobile Association (AAA) in 1973, Melissa worked as an advertising copywriter, public relations writer, ghostwriter, and newspaper columnist for many years. Though officially retired, she continues to freelance for numerous publications.

Inspired by her son’s travels, she moved to Amsterdam in 2010 and cites the adventure of living in a different country as key in her personal growth. “Escaping rich white bubbles in Beverly Hills and Newport Beach opened my mind to other experiences and points of view,” Melissa says, adding that a short vacation won’t provide the benefits of immersing yourself for weeks or months in another culture.

Since moving abroad, Melissa has written numerous guides about her adopted city, including 48-Hours/Amsterdam, published by National Geographic. Since 2012, she’s been the voice of “UnClogged in Amsterdam: An American Expat Plumbs the Netherlands” (, a blog about all things Dutch that’s an excellent resource for travelers seeking hidden gems in the Netherlands. She has received numerous awards for her writing, including a Gold Award from the North American Travel Journalists Association.

Today, Adams is passionate about helping to bridge the gap between education and the workforce. When asked about her goals for the Endowment, Adams replied, “I hope The Adams International Internship Endowment will provide students with practical, hands-on, in-depth experiences that will help them advance their career goals, understand other cultures, and become global thinkers. Through internships in foreign countries, they’ll boost their chances for success in an interconnected world.”

The endowment will make working abroad accessible to students by helping to cover expenses like airfare. This will allow students, who typically wouldn’t be able to afford travel, new opportunities to expand their horizons. Applications will be accepted in Spring and will be reviewed for the following academic year.