Melanie Page: A Leader From Birth

Text by Jayde Scogin/
Photos courtesy of Melanie Page

A young woman with long brown hair holding her newborn child and smiling
Joan Ventura with her newborn child, Melanie in 1969, before Ventura gave her baby up for adoption. Photo 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.

Young girl with dark hair smiling for a portrait photo where a tan shirt and necklace
Melanie Page in her sixth grade photo from Turner Middle School. Photo courtesy of Melanie Page
A young woman with short dark hair smiles, posing for a portrait wearing a black cape over a white uniform and a white nurses cap.
Melanie Page after the capping ceremony at Georgia Baptist College of Nursing. Photo courtesy of Melanie Page
An older, women with silver hair pulled back, wearing a black shirt smiling wearing a black top in front of red and black background.
Melanie Page, 2021. Photo: Jayde Scogin

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.

An young woman with dark hair wearing a multi-pattern shirt sitson a brown and white couch next to a young boy with short dark hair wearing a blue denim jacket over a yellow and black shirt, and young girl with long dark hair wearing a pink shirt
Melanie Page (right) meeting her birth mother, Joan Ventura and half-brother, Scottie, for the first time in 1989. Photo courtesy of Melanie Page

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. 

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