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Faculty Spotlight: Johana Melendez


Since 2006, Johana Melendez has worked as a biology professor at Hillsborough Community College Plant City Campus


She says, “I don’t consider myself just a biology professor, I consider myself a mentor. As a person who came from an underprivileged family, I know there are many struggles that one faces. I want our students to know they can do whatever they set their mind to, no matter the obstacle. 


Almost every day I let my students know of different academic events, scholarships, internships and jobs out in the community. For those students wanting to pursue STEM careers, I highly encourage them to contact me about a tour of Moffitt Cancer Center.”


Originally from Puerto Rico, Professor Melendez received her graduate level education in microbiology and medical zoology from the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus. 


In 2001, she moved to Florida to work at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute. Since accepting her teaching position at HCC, she has remained at Moffitt as a pro re nata (PRN) flow cytometry specialist. 


Professor Melendez is proud to bring her work at Moffitt to HCC to help impact the health of many diverse minority groups. As a member of the community advisory panel at Moffitt, she has been able to coordinate events and educational forums with guest speakers to come to the College and speak with students about the field of STEM, as well as educate students on cancer prevention, COVID-19 vaccines and other health-related topics.


She explains that any student can enroll in biology courses at HCC, regardless of major. However, a large portion of students who enroll are on a nursing or health sciences education track. 


“In my classes, I expect every student to read the required course materials. We go over so much information, and you’re not going to retain it if you only hear it once. Reading gives you the opportunity to take notes and truly digest the material. 


My syllabus also contains discussion posts, video lectures and adaptive learning assignments. These assignments are meant to adjust to each individual student's knowledge, meaning they get the chance to really evaluate whether they know the material or not.” 


“I’m blessed to work at an institution that has so many resources. Anything you need, you can find at HCC--even free food! Seeing our students succeed is one of our greatest goals.” 


“It’s a shame when students don’t want to come to HCC or any other community college. I speak for a lot of professors like myself who have taught at a university before and now are at HCC, whose quality and methods of teaching haven’t changed. The quality of teaching compared with the affordability can’t be beat. At the community college level, you get the opportunity to have a more one-on-one student-professor relationship.


I love my HCC Plant City family. We’re small enough that everyone knows each other.” 


Professor Melendez is also a member of Somos HCC, the Hispanic and Latino Advisory Committee at the College. 


“Somos HCC was started with the idea to try and educate our college community about the needs of the Hispanic community, but also to provide a safe place for our Hispanic students, faculty, staff and administrators to share resources. 


I’m personally in charge of finding internships, scholarships and professional development opportunities. Some I find are specifically geared to the Hispanic community, but some are also general. 


Anyone, whether you are Hispanic or Latino or not, can join Somos HCC.”


More information about Somos HCC can be found on the College SharePoint site


She says, “The more faculty and staff educate themselves on different cultures and diverse issues and evaluate their own biases, then we can begin to better serve our students, especially those from minority communities.”


Professor Melendez is also a member of the collegewide internalization committee. She highly encourages students to get involved in diverse clubs, organizations and committees so that the student perspective can be reflected in collegewide decision-making. 


“I love working at HCC. Who I am as a professional can be accredited to all the resources the College has provided me to develop in the field as an educator. After all the opportunities I’ve been given to grow, I can only give my thanks by helping our students succeed here as well.” 


To contact Professor Melendez, please email

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