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Spotlight On: Melissa Sumiko Keightley

Through this continuing series, you'll get to know the dedicated staff members serving our student residential communities.

Given her professional role, you might guess that Melissa Sumiko Keightley enjoys being a sounding board for students, but did you know she also loves playing video games? As neighborhood program director, she helps to shape neighborhood life through supervising resident directors and community coordinators, and collaborating with resident fellows to lead each neighborhood’s community council.


Melissa Keightley (Image credit: Andrew Brodhead)

What education and experience do you bring to this work? 

I have a master’s degree in student development from Seattle University and a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Oregon State University. I worked previously in residential life at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Cornish College of the Arts, the Art Institute of Seattle, and Oregon State University.


Tell us about your family.

I live with my husband. I have a father and stepmother who live in Oregon, as well as two sisters.


What are your hobbies?

I enjoy reading, running, video games, and hiking.


Do you have any pets?

I have a cat.


What is one program you think all students should check out?

Our Well-Being coaches are underutilized.


What is your favorite Stanford event?

I come from a volleyball family – my dad coaches and my sisters both play. I have a feeling that I will attend lots of women’s volleyball games.


What tips do you have for people who are new to campus?

Go for lots of walks. Try to meet people in different places. One of the surprising things about Stanford is that it’s just a big campus. Getting from one end to the other takes some time – you have to plan ahead.


What is a hidden gem you have discovered on campus?

The Windhover Contemplative Center really fascinates me. It’s beautiful, with green space around it, and it has a labyrinth you can walk outside. It seems like a really unique space.


Tell us about a challenge you experienced at Stanford and how you overcame it.

I think COVID has been a challenge for everybody. I appreciate the patience and understanding that everyone has offered. It’s not fun for anyone to have to go through these restrictions, especially students in their college years. Students have been flexible and offered a lot of grace, which I really appreciate.


What is one thing you would like students to know?

They don’t have to reach out only when things are going wrong. Many staff, myself included, enjoy being a sounding board for students – learning their stories, seeing how I can contribute to their personal and professional development.


What are some fun facts about you?

I am a video gamer, which I don’t think people always associate with professional staff members. It’s something that I really enjoy, and I am proud of that nerdy side of myself.