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Medical Career Is On-Deck for Record-Setting Softball Standout
May 2, 2019
Melissa Livermore, a three-time All-American, leads the Comets with a .496 batting average and 40 stolen bases this season. Earlier this year, Livermore set the all-time career steals record for NCAA Division III.
Healthcare studies senior Melissa Livermore is preparing to stroll across the stage at commencement this month, completing her degree and becoming a University of Texas at Dallas alumna.
That 36-foot walk ends an era in which she specialized in the 60-foot sprint.
Livermore, who uses a model of a heart to teach students, served as a teaching assistant in anatomy and physiology courses for Dr. Brenna Hill.
The Frisco Wakeland High School product and lifelong North Texas resident is the Comets’ first softball All-American and first three-time All-American in any sport. But she has left her mark on more than just the stat sheet while at UT Dallas.
Livermore is a strong student in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies who plans to become a physician assistant. She has been a peer advisor for Residential Life for three years and served as a teaching assistant (TA).
Speaking with the swiftness of someone who tries to make every moment count, Livermore said she’s used to keeping occupied.
“I thrive off of staying busy. There are so many things I like to do and be a part of here at UTD,” she said. “I try hard to make the most of my time and be productive.”
Dr. Brenna Hill, a senior lecturer in biological sciences, taught Livermore in several classes and chose her as a TA for anatomy and physiology courses. Hill described her as “a standout in every way.”
“She’s tenacious and driven,” Hill said. “Others look to her for guidance that she’s more than willing to give. She’s a natural-born leader who sets an example for others and elevates those around her. She will excel in anything she attempts, and I truly can’t wait to see what good she does as she moves forward.”
“She’s a natural-born leader who sets an example for others and elevates those around her. She will excel in anything she attempts, and I truly can’t wait to see what good she does as she moves forward.”
Livermore’s extraversion and drive to succeed shine through in her TA role from which she gains fulfillment in sharing eureka experiences with her students.
“I love that moment when I’ve helped explain something that allows a student to grasp it,” Livermore said. “I love seeing people progress and be excited when they learn.”
Her teaching tendencies transition well into a senior leadership role in the dugout. In addition to her unprecedented steals total, she boasts the best batting average on the team and was named conference hitter of the week twice this season.
“Mel was blessed with natural ability and speed,” first-year UT Dallas softball coach James Kling said. “She takes everything pretty seriously on and off the field, and that’s why she will be successful in life in whatever she chooses to do.”
When she joined the team her freshman year, Livermore expected to be used mostly as a pinch runner. Instead, she found herself batting leadoff for then-coach Rich Wieligman. Breaking a national record wasn’t on her radar until two seasons — and 100 stolen bases — into her college career.
American Southwest Conference Softball Tournament
When: May 2-4
Where: East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, Texas
Pairings and details: 2019 ASC Softball Championship Central
“From the leadoff spot, you get so many more opportunities to steal bases, because odds are no one is in front of you,” she said. “Going into my junior year, I was told the D-III record was only 76 more, that I was already on track to beat it. That’s when I understood that it was in reach.”
Livermore conceded that she may have had some advantages on and off the field, but emphasized how diligence played a role in her achievements.
“I’ve been really fortunate talentwise, but it has also come with a lot of hard work,” she said. “A lot of hours studying, a lot of hours practicing.”
What time remains after sports and studying is devoted to Campus Outreach, a Christian college ministry group, and to her peer-advisor position.
“Free moments are few and far between, but having friends in the places that I work really makes a difference,” Livermore said. “Getting to grow in my faith has helped me home in on what’s important whenever life gets too busy, and living in the residence halls, I can just walk out into the lobby and find people I know.”
After graduation, Livermore plans to spend a gap year working as an emergency medical technician, then apply to master’s programs for a physician assistant degree. She hopes to attend either UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas or the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth.
“With a physician assistant degree, there’s more of an opportunity to switch specialization down the road,” she said. “I’m drawn to orthopedics and sports medicine now, but if I want to do dermatology later, I’m not locked in.”
Another draw of the physician assistant path echoes her roles as a peer advisor and a TA: continuing to teach.
“As a physician assistant, you can take the time to educate patients,” Livermore said. “Doctors are managing so much more; a PA can stop and have that in-depth conversation.”
In teaching, advising and otherwise guiding those around her, Livermore exhibits a drive she describes as extending beyond athletics and academia to a dogged pursuit of “encouraging others and lifting others up.”
“A core element of my personality is being positive no matter the situation,” she said. “My hope is that whenever someone interacts with me, their day has a little more sunshine and joy than before.”