Inspirational OG Prof. Jill Mellick, Ph.D. (Class of 1965) - Psychologist, Academic, Author, Poet, Multimedia Artist and Philanthropist

Prof. Jill Mellick, Ph.D. (Class of 1965) - Internationally renowned psychologist, academic, author, poet, multimedia artist and philanthropist -

Historian Edith Gelles, states Emerita Professor Jill Mellick is ‘a polymath—the only I’ve met’.

Jill has led and transformed in every field of endeavour. During Honours studies at The University of Queensland (UQ), she was Editor, "Makar", university literary journal; taught poetry at Twelfth Night; and used her Honours Scholarship to volunteer linguistic skills with Niugini tribes. Invited to join UQ’s English Faculty upon graduation, instead she transformed Clayfield College’s Senior English curriculum and tutored at Women’s College. During 1971, she taught at Idbury Manor, an Oxfordshire finishing school; its Principals invited her to establish a Belgian school. Instead, she became Head of Arts, Clayfield College, at 23. Believing in democratic access to education, at 25 she became Principal of International Correspondence Schools, Australasia (Sydney), supervising 70 course writers/instructors, serving > 7,000 students. She helped lead the Australian and South Pacific External Studies Association.

No Australian university offered psychotherapy training. In California, she received her Ph.D. (Clinical Psychology) in 1983. The Department of Psychiatry, Stanford, appointed her their only psychology intern - ever.

As Director of Doctoral Research at ITP/Sofia University, she transformed its research philosophy. She founded doctoral studies in the use of the arts in psychotherapy--the first program, worldwide. She co-founded the International Association of Expressive Arts Therapists, certifying expressive arts programs and practitioners.

She published two books in Australia (William Brooks) at 23 and 28—creative writing for young and older students.

Volunteering with Pueblo Indian tribes for 40 years, she co-authored, with Jeanne Shutes, The Worlds of P’otsunu, a biography of a Pueblo woman (University of New Mexico Press). Multiple publications include The Art of Dreaming (using arts to explore dreams); Coming Home to Myself (with international psycho-spirituality leader, Jungian analyst, Marion Woodman) and created its watercolours.

Scheidegger & Spiess published her discoveries of and research into C.G. Jung’s art mediums and process, The Red Book Hours (2018). She earned the trust of his descendants and prominent Jungian scholars’ highest praise.

International analyst Murray Stein, Ph.D., stated Jill’s book (460pp) is ‘a necessary companion for all who own Jung’s Red Book’. Andreas Jung, calls it ‘The Red Book’s little sister’. Jung’s descendants invited her to contribute to The Art of C.G. Jung (Norton, 2018) and to present with them at ‘Art and Psyche.’ Bettina Kaufmann, Jung Works Foundation Secretary, believes Jill should speak at all international musea displaying Jung’s Red Book.

In addition to teaching, she has been a senior Jungian psychologist in private practice in Palo Alto since 1984, working with physicians, lawyers, academics, industry and community leaders. John Donahoe, CEO of Baine, eBay, PayPal, now Nike, addressing MBA students (YouTube) speaks highly of his 30 years’ working with Jill.

Jill has had international solo art shows with work in collections worldwide.
A remarkable legacy to the Somerville House Foundation, the Dr Jill Mellick Fellowship will give highly motivated daughters of first-generation parents six‐year fellowships – "a transformational gift".

 

By Petrina Gilmore (Somerville House Foundation)

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We are delighted to share with you the below reflections of Prof. Jill Mellick, Ph.D. (Class of 1965) 

Somerville at Large

 

Decades of life in Palo Alto, Northern California, extensive travel and research in Europe as well as multiple trips to Oz have diminished neither values nor experiences from my years at home and at Somerville.

 

Having well-travelled grandparents and parents, I heard about cultures early. I quizzed mother and grandmother about world travels, hovered over photograph albums documented with white ink on black background. My Anglo-Irish grandmother spoke wistfully of “Home”. My father had sailed to and from Britain through multiple ports by the time he was eight and spent war years in New Guinea. My Russian grandfather’s mandolin and samovar told me some of what his early death prevented him from telling me himself; my other grandfather’s copy of the first ANZAC Day service, his graceful penmanship in a tiny diary, and photographs of France, England, and Ireland said what he did not about the First World War. 

 

Then I entered Somerville in the Junior School. It immersed me. I didn’t know it was its own subculture when I was there. I just belonged to an intangible field. Rituals, requirements, routines informed and formed us. We participated in and contributed to that field and experienced belonging in itOne can’t be loyal to stairs, to a stained-glass window, to a uniform. One can only be loyal to people, to intangibles: values, beliefs, priorities only known by their manifestations. One experiences un esprit de corps— literally translated as “a spirit of the body.” The body pulses with the people associated with Somerville; the spirit is that intangible field that is “Somerville”.

 

First Principal, Eliza Fewings, said, “A world is no world without learning.” Somerville deepened my fascination with the world and its cultures. Estelle Christie in the Junior School made me a francophile. As I glued images of châteaux onto a project, I unconsciously placed them in my future. I later visited many, including Azay-le-Rideau, with its magical name and watery beauty, and Amboise with its stained-glass burial chapel for da Vinci; being there, I felt as though something were complete and also as though I were eleven again. Gillian Bridgwood took us through eras in British and European history with her crisp British accent; Christina Wilson delivered ex tempore, university-style lectures on Egyptians, Romans, Greeks with her soft Scottish accent. I was bad at facts and dates but loved anything about cultures. Golden threads woven at home and in Junior and Senior School fated me to be a Somervillian and a culture vulture. I had to go to London, Stratford, Paris, the château country, Pilatus, the Parthenon, Delphi, Rome…. My future was writ large at home, at school.

 

Because I was an English Honours student at U of Q, chances to study other subjects were limited. However, cultural anthropology taught me to look at the air we breathe. In a basement theatre, a lecturer introduced formal culture theory: Australia was one of hundreds; it also had many subcultures. This gave wind to my neatly folded wings. I felt my spirit fly out the clerestory window. Frightened, elated, I looked down at Australia, the university, Somerville, from a height. In a minute, I had become irrevocably separated from identification with a culture, with any collective. I was alone. Ever since, I’ve delighted in entering cultures fully but I have never identified fully with one again.

 

After the de rigueur post-grad year working and travelling abroad, being Head of Arts at Clayfield College and Principal of an Australasian distance education program, I knew I still wanted to study psychology—preferably psychotherapy. I’d been and continued to be blocked at every tertiary turn.

 

Northern California offered this academic opportunity. I innocently entered a culture not just radically different but an era ahead. We’d worn dresses and stockings to uni. I was now surrounded by tie-dye, patchouli oil, and intelligent peers who smoked marijuana before and after class and distrusted all authority. When I occasionally mentioned uniforms, trams, buses, formal balls, going to uni from home, getting my first car after uni, my friends were fascinated. Few had worn uniforms; many had used a secondhand car or a bike to get to high school: they’d gone to one “formal,” their high school prom; all had been accepted at universities far from home.

 

This, however, was only one of many subcultures in the U.S. I worked, researched, made friends with, and wrote about Native Americans in New Mexico (NM’s a state; it’s not Mexico). It, itself, has three cultures: Hispanic (descended purely, if you value your life, from the Conquistadores), Pueblo Indian (18 tribes in New Mexico, one in Arizona), and Anglo (the rest of us). 

 

This rare opportunity challenged yet more cultural assumptions. (A tribal elder once tested whether I was a witch—without my permission. Full disclosure: I’m a white witch.) Subtler assumptions were assailed. For example, Puebloans don’t maintain steady interpersonal intimacy from one day to the next. Asking myself “What did I do wrong?” was self-important. I had nothing to do with it; the inner sky of Puebloans simply changed daily. Too, assuming I was less helpful because I was Anglo was wrong; Puebloans could discuss things with me because I didn’t and never could belong.

 

Their world view is superior to our GPS perspective. Pueblo villages have a sipapu, an earth navel, the centre of the world. Ancestors emerged through it into this world. Each village has a centre of the world. Each is correct. Paradox is not conflict. We are the ones who can’t handle non-binary concepts.

 

I carved out time around private practice (thanks to my location in Palo Alto, I worked mainly with international executives and professionals who, in my opinion, paid me to learn about their worlds). I thought I should work in their professional and home culture, not they, in mine. The flexibility of my profession let me enjoy family life, friends, writing books, being a part-time professor in a doctoral psychology course—and travel. We travelled extensively, often returning to favourite places. I also came to Oz up to thrice yearly to see family and friends and to get my Straddie fix.

 

As I flew overseas, I’d remind myself of the rituals of the culture I was entering—for example, an air kiss in England and Australia, an embrace in the U.S., a hug and a gentle laugh in many Pueblos, a bow in Japan, a firm handshake or three kisses in Switzerland, between two and four kisses in France depending on region. That just handled greeting. Conversational customs, including asking questions and making offers, differ radically; a jet-lagged slip can offend in a second.

 

Now, thanks to technology, viruses, global crises, ease of travel (if we’re ever allowed to travel again), I experience myself as a world citizen, not as an “expat”. Thanks to audiovisual technology, my father and I meet often, he in his study and I, in my library (my grandparents waited months for letters); friends and cousins and I get together. We are at once more isolated and more connected. People might live an hour away or half a world away; the means for gathering is the same. I have four passports: Aussie, British, Irish, and U.S. I live in the birthplace of technology. The Google campus is five minutes away. Even before multicultural brain drain to work in upstart, startup companies going public creating unimaginable wealth in the twenty-somethings, Palo Alto was strongly multicultural thanks to Stanford University and Medical Centre.

 

Given my exposure and these massive changes, what did and does stay constant for me? Paradoxically, what links me irrevocably to Somerville also enabled me to negotiate Californian culture in the early 80s and later, other cultures. (Even my recent books study a Swiss psychologist and a Canadian.) At Somerville, we might have taken merciless delight in finding mistresses’ weak spots, but their expectations of us imprinted us, as did the sea of values we swam in. I left wanting to learn, to be my best self, to be kind, courteous, caring, to be able to recognise humour and unvoiced sadness. I left instilled with confidence; it didn’t depend on doing the right thing but on knowing I didn’t know or could be wrong and could still be me. I knew each person matters and, if unhampered by systemic inequalities, can influence what matters. I felt a sense of efficacy, a need to contribute to a larger whole. I had the privilege of following professional passions—private practice, writing, teaching, and creative avocations. I felt the pull of ethics, caring, honesty, fairness, a wish to benefit from cultural competency and currency, a sense of personal empowerment, and a responsibility to be my own and others’ advocate. These are just some of the intangibles Somerville and home instilled. Whether I embody them is for others to decide.

 

Since being diagnosed with Stage IV cancer in 2016 and with the advent of COVID, I’ve not be able to indulge wider peripatetic habits. I still consult on a limited basis (yes, it’s still a passion), play the grand (badly now), make art, write books. Domestic travel is possible again; Vermont, New Mexico, NYC, and Kaua’i are regular ports of call. After the diagnosis and until COVID, my Oz friends each flew to see me. I was delighted to my bones. We didn’t talk medical talk. That’s American; they wouldn’t have been here were it not for how I am. Understatement is a hallmark of Oz interchange.

 

A Swiss scientist residing here with his American family once commented, “There’s a window in which we establish enduring, deep friendships. Then it closes. That happened for me in the Ticino from 13 to 20.” I disagreed; I have enduring, deep friendships worldwide. However, he might be on to something. My Somerville and university friends are— English has no word for it but Hawai’ian does—ohana, family of the heart, of a period, place, or experience. We might differ radically in interests or beliefs; we are always ohana.

 

A friend from Junior School on and I wandered into a Brisbane store. An attractive young woman asked if we were sisters; we acted like it but look quite different.

“Schoolmates.” 

“Where?” she asked. 

“Somerville. Fifty years ago. No—yes—yes—fifty.” 

Her brown eyes filled. “I’ve just left. I miss Somerville so much. You’ve made my day. Now I know we can still have ‘it’ fifty years later.” She described her Somerville circle; her friends were moving to different tertiary institutions and eventually out into the world.

 

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History with Somerville House

Jill's legacy at Somerville House began even earlier with her mother, composer Letty (Violet) Katts also attending Somerville House from 1933 to 1934. The below incredible photographs feature Letty. It is interesting to note that in this era the girls wore leather gloves and black stockings in both summer and winter. 

Letty (Violet) Katts circa 1934 featured with her dog "Mickey"

Letty (Violet) Katts in winter uniform 

Letty (Violet) Katts (first row far right)

Jill Mellick attended Somerville House from 1960 to 1965 and it is easy to see her motivation and dedication present during her school years with her many achievements listed below;

Franklin House Captain, 

Franklin House Junior School Rep, 

Franklin House Rep in 9th and 10th grade; 

Form Captain 1960, 61, 62,63, 64, 65. 

SubPrefect 1964, 

Prefect, 1965, 

Citizenship Prize, 1965, 

Scripture Prize, 1965, 

Academic Awards, 1960, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65; 

Alliance Francaise Award, 1965; 

Shell Bursary Award, 1964; 

Commonwealth Scholar, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968

English Honours Scholarship U of Q 1969.

 

In front of Cumbooquepa - House and School Captains 1964 (Jill in front row, far left - Franklin House Captain and Prefect)

House captains, Boarding House and School Captains, 1965 (Jill is top right)

 

Coming up Next

Prof. Mellick continues to inspire with upcoming publication of her book due in October/November titled "THERE YOU ARE" Marion Woodman: Biography of a Friendship - to be published by Chiron Press, one of the major Jungian orientated presses.

Marion Woodman was as a mythopoetic athor, poet, analytical psychologist, and women's movement figure. "The book as I make clear in the introduction is a study of a deep friendship through thick and thin and what the nature of that is. Because she was Canadian and I, Australian and living in the States, we wrote a lot. My archives are being stored by the same archive as Marion’s: OPUS in Santa Barbara, so they will eventually have all this correspondence. I realised with a shock recently that handwritten correspondence is a dying art. Also, someone will write about our correspondence down the line but I’d rather than it be I." says Jill.

While Jill has been diagnosed with Stage IV cancer, it is progressing slowly and she is able to, with some limitations, enjoy contributing to her many passions. 

In addition to her incredible philanthropic contributions to Somerville House, Jill is pleased to provide mentoring opportunities and receive individual requests from students in the higher forms, about career choices and experiences. Dr Jill Mellick's information is included in Our Directory of Tutors (HERE). It is a truly unique offering and a privilege to be able to offer this opportunity. We thank Dr Jill Mellick for her insights, generosity and emodiment of all it means to be an Inspirational Old Girl!

 

Dr Jill Mellick's LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-jill-mellick-66689415/

Website: http://www.jillmellick.com

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jill_Mellick

 

We love to hear stories of and about Old Girls.  Please contact us at connect@somervillehouseoga.com.au with yours.

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