Melissa Conroy was born on December 13, 1979, in Omaha, Nebraska, just two months after her parents began building the house she would grow up in. Her father, Marty, has been an electrician and computer specialist for much of her life, and her mother, Marsha, is a French and Spanish translator. Marsha’s career as a translator is relatively recent, but her background is in linguistics and language. Her mother’s “good way with words” certainly was a positive influence on Melissa’s creative aspirations (Conroy). However, in her youth, Melissa had interests outside of writing. She loved horses, so she worked with them from ages ten to sixteen until she became bored with them, or “had been kicked one too many times,” and took up dance instead (Conroy). She continued with dance until high school.
As for schooling, Melissa went to public school from kindergarten through third grade, followed by a Lutheran Bible school for fourth through eighth grade. Following that, she attended high school for six months before dropping out and becoming home-schooled for the last three years. During this time, Melissa was able to begin embracing the college experience at a young age. She did a semester at Grace University and then took classes at Metropolitan Community College. She carried over twenty-thirty credits to college, allowing her to eventually graduate a semester early.
Melissa completed her undergraduate degree at Toccoa Falls College in Toccoa, Georgia in 2001. Toccoa Falls is a Christian liberal arts college, and Melissa received her degree in English while “essentially [double-majoring] in both English and Theology” (Conroy). She felt it wise to continue with her studies, which led her back to Omaha. Melissa says, “When I left Omaha, I swore I’d never come back,” but it was the allure of in-state tuition that brought her home (Conroy). However, right after graduating from Toccoa Falls, Melissa studied abroad at the University of Oxford in England for a month. She says, “I didn’t really study as much as I walked around the city going, ‘Ooh, look at Oxford!’ and ate lots of scones, and drank lots of tea” (Conroy). Her time at Oxford not only gave her cultural experience, it provided