“I’m functioning as if I’m not retiring. And I have to (tell) my mind like, Okay, you need to start shutting things down. You need to start cleaning up your office, you know, and kind of throwing stuff out,” Barbara Mellion said.
Mellion has been working in multiple positions at Berkeley High School since 1980. Currently, she is the district registrar, where she “(fulfills) multiple roles at Berkeley High, primarily as the custodian of student records.” However, after 43 years of working at BHS, Mellion plans to retire before the spring semester.
Mellion’s current job as registrar has both technical and social aspects. She handles transcripts for the whole school and former students both electronically and via physical copies. According to Mellion, “it gets kind of tricky, a little bit … I have to combine the two of them together and make it work.” Mellion has continued to adapt to changing systems, and has had to shift from manual transcript records to online transcript records.
“I think it’s really good that we are on (a) computer system, and we’re trying to figure it out now with the transcripts to have a third party because we have so many students that request transcripts,” Mellion said.
Meeting with staff and students is another huge part of her job. If she receives a transcript from a student recorded in a different language, she will have to meet with the student to help translate the transcript so she can put it in BHS records.
Mellion is also in touch with counselors to keep them informed about students’ credits and if they are on track to graduate. “I’ve worked hand in hand with the counselors on that, and it makes it more cohesive to work that way,” Mellion said.
The primary goal of the registrar is to make sure that students who are in BHS or those who have graduated have accurate records for transcripts. This is extremely important for students applying to jobs, colleges, or other opportunities. According to Mellion, “We upload that information to them or mail it to them, or however they’re requesting it to be sent out.”
Beyond this, she irons out any mistakes in the records, such as the system falsely reporting that a student didn’t graduate when they did. “We’ve had several systems since I’ve been here, so the codes don’t always translate to the newer system. So there’s that research to verify, and a lot of times it takes a while because you have to manually evaluate that transcript,” said Mellion.
Mellion is inspired to support, guide, and assist students on their academic and life journeys. Mellion wrote in an email that she “finds satisfaction in translating transcripts from other schools into our BHS system and engaging in conversations with students.”
In these conversations, Mellion finds significance in deepening her connection with students and thus broadening her perspectives on students who come from many different places. Mellion said, “Actually, I get to know the students obviously, and I tend to bond a little bit because they’re coming in from different countries … so it’s nice to know what other countries do and what the expectations are compared to the expectations here. So I just kind of like talking with the students about that.”
After she retires, she plans to spend more time working on her notary business. “I just recently took a course and got certified to do estate planning and trust. So I’m working with attorneys to do estate planning and trust, and that’s another job in itself. (But,) I’ve been working since I was 14, so that’s what my body knows to do is to work right now,” Mellion said.
She also plans to spend more time gardening or relaxing by the koi pond built by her son. In addition, she hopes to travel, with plans to go on trips in-state, like Napa, or elsewhere, like Hawaii, France, or Italy. According to Mellion, “There’s so many places in California … that I have not visited … (I want to) do a little more exploring.” Ultimately, for Mellion, free time is a significant upside of retirement, allowing her to do “whatever else (she) wants.”
She acknowledges that she has a strong connection to Berkeley, and is proud of her dedication and hard work throughout her career. Many others are recognizing Mellion as she leaves BHS, including other staff and students who constructed a wall of appreciation notes for her. “I remember the first time I met with you, and you made me feel warm and welcomed,” one note read.
Mellion wanted to appreciate all the support she’s been given as she’s left. “(The) clerical staff really surprised me and they honored me this whole week; it’s heartfelt to me and that made me feel really good and I still feel good about it, and I just want to give them kudos,” Mellion said.