Penfield College Ph.D. Student Melissa Waller Selected for 2016 Outstanding Atlanta Class


ATLANTA – Mercer University's Melissa Waller, a second-year student in Penfield College's Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision program, was recently selected as one of 10 members of the Outstanding Atlanta (OA) Class of 2016.

Waller, a national certified counselor and educator for the deaf and hard of hearing who works for Atlanta Public Schools, previously earned her Master of Science in clinical mental health counseling from Mercer and her Bachelor of Arts with a double major in deaf education and elementary education from Michigan State University.

She and the other members of OA's Class of 2016 will be inducted during a reception held on Jan. 27. The class will work with the organization to recognize, unite and develop young leaders in Atlanta through various programs and leadership training seminars; give back to the Atlanta community through volunteer service, including, but not limited to, youth development; and help both young and more established leaders network in an attempt to build synergy amongst such individuals and find innovative ways to continue to improve the city of Atlanta.

“The faculty and I are proud that Melissa is one of only 10 individuals to be selected this year for membership in the Outstanding Atlanta organization,” said Dr. Priscilla Danheiser, dean of Penfield College. “Melissa is a perfect example of the leadership and service capacity of students in our professional counseling programs.”

Outstanding Atlanta, originally known as The Outstanding Young People Of Atlanta (TOYPA), was created in 1968 to recognize outstanding young Atlantans for their contributions to the betterment of the city.

Following its initial involvement with the Atlanta Dogwood Festival, OA grew to become an independent organization devoted to recognizing some of the most actively involved and dynamic young people in Atlanta who, in turn, helped to promote the leadership qualities that have made Atlanta such an outstanding place in which to live and work.

Each year, 10 young leaders of Atlanta, between the ages of 21 and 36, are selected as members of this prestigious organization in recognition of their business and civic accomplishments.

Today, Outstanding Atlanta is one of the city's premier organizations with respect to recognizing and connecting top Atlanta business and community leaders. OA members have included the likes of Mayor Kasim Reed, City Council President Caesar Mitchell, television anchorwoman Monica Kauffman, Kate's Club founder Kate Atwood and former attorney on the Chief Justice's Commission on Professionalism Avarita Hanson. For more information, visit

Penfield College's Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision prepares professionals as practitioners, consultants, counselor educators, supervisors and researchers. For more information, visit

About Penfield College of Mercer University

Penfield College of Mercer University, established as the College of Continuing and Professional Studies in 2003, is committed to serving non-traditional learners and currently enrolls more than 1,300 students. Undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs are offered to working adult learners seeking professional advancement into leadership roles in and beyond their communities. Educational programs provide students with distinctive, multidisciplinary programs that integrate theory and practice. The College offers general education and elective courses for various colleges and schools at Mercer. Another initiative called the Bridge program transitions students enrolled in Mercer's English Language Institute and other international students to undergraduate programs throughout the University. Areas of study include organizational leadership, counseling, human services, human resources, informatics, criminal justice leadership, nursing preparation, liberal studies, psychology, communication, homeland security and emergency management, and healthcare leadership. Programs are offered on Mercer's campuses in Atlanta and Macon, as well as multiple regional academic centers in Douglas County, Henry County and Newnan, and online. To learn more, visit