Text by Jayde Scogin/
Photos courtesy of Melanie Page
Melanie Page was born to her Irish-Italian mother, Joan Ventura, in a “girls home” in Alabama. Ventura was only 17 years old at the time when her devout Catholic parents gave her two options when they learned she was pregnant: move out on her own or give her baby up for adoption.
Ventura gave her newborn child to Charles and Patricia Page August 11, 1968.
Melanie grew up in Lithia Springs, Georgia on the upper slopes of poverty. The Page’s lived in a double-wide trailer home with their three children and a grandchild. Her father worked at Georgia Power, the Atlanta-based utility company. Her mother was unemployed. Melanie’s older brother and sister were in and out of jobs. Her sister got pregnant in her teenage years. They didn’t have many material things, but everyone was loved and fed. Melanie said her family lacked faith and ambition. She vowed to do better.
Not that she would be better and above her family, but that she wanted to work harder and provide more for her own children.
When she was young, she would watch the kids play across the street at Friendship Baptist Church. One Sunday she went over. Without her parents or siblings, Page took her first steps into church and found faith on her own at 8 years old. She wore her Christian faith proudly and was eventually baptized.
She spent her middle school and high school years working at a nursing home. Looking back, she regrets not having more fun. She regrets being too hard on herself. But that hard work paid off when she earned a full scholarship to Georgia Baptist College of Nursing in downtown Atlanta.
“… it doesn’t matter where you came from, who you came from … how much you have. You can still be a leader … become something your younger self would be proud of.”
Melanie graduated with her nursing degree in 1989, the same year she married and met Ventura and her half brother, Scotty, in person for the first time. Since she was a child, Melanie had wondered why she was given up for adoption but not her two half brothers.
Ventura said she promised Melanie’s adoptive parents she would let them live their lives and leave them alone. Melanie said she still struggles with the long-lasting emotional effects of adoption, but was healthy and loved and eventually had two children of her own. She is proud of the life she created.
“Every young woman should know that it doesn’t matter where you came from, who you came from, or didn’t, and how much you have,” she said. “You can still be a leader and still become something your younger self would be proud of.”
Student Biography: Jayde Scogin resides in Douglasville, Georgia and is a fourth year public relations major at Kennesaw State University.
Women’s Leadership through Virtual Exchange: Youth Sharing Digital Stories (WLVE) is a project engaging 100 undergraduate and graduate students from Hassan II University Casablanca with 100 undergraduate students from Kennesaw State University in a unique cross-cultural virtual exchange experience focused on better understanding women’s leadership through research, analysis, and digital storytelling. This virtual classroom-based project will collect biographical stories of successful women leaders in both countries written by the students and publish them online on Bokeh Focus.