Whether she’s singing in a musical theater production, or leading a Series 7 class, Melissa Hunt brings a passion for peak performance to her role. Before joining the faculty at Knopman Marks, she taught securities exam prep for more than 20 years. Described by her colleagues as passionate, funny and exceptional, she can imagine no better way to spend her workday than helping students grow.
“There’s nothing like the raw emotional feedback I get when a student reaches out after taking an exam,” says Hunt, whose enthusiasm for teaching is palpable. “I love seeing how far they’ve come so quickly. For many, passing their exam is a game changer.”
A self-proclaimed “jack of all securities training,” Hunt has taught and written content for the SIE, Series 6, Series 7, Series 24, Series 63, Series 65, and Series 66. She has worked at Securities Training Corporation, AD Banker and Pass Perfect. Below, the Marion, Iowa, native and mother of two discusses what helps students thrive and how she found her purpose when she started teaching.
“One of the best tactics to bringing your A-game when your heart is racing comes down to taking a few deep breaths to slow down your nervous system.” – Melissa Hunt
GOOD VIBES – Hunt (far left) in the green room before a performance of “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” on stage (center) and supporting her hometown team (right).
What’s your best advice for students who feel anxious while prepping for a FINRA exam?
I encourage our students to use our VIBES approach, and I’ve used it myself before performing on stage. This includes setting a clear intention and doing breathing exercises that can instantly regulate your nervous system. We can’t avoid high-pressure situations in life, but we can learn how to perform at our best no matter the circumstances.
What has acting taught you about high-stakes performance?
I discovered musical theater in college and have continued to pursue it as a hobby. Whether you’re performing in a show in front of an audience or performing in a testing center on exam day, you’re facing the culmination of a lot of time and effort all boiling down to one moment. When you’re able to focus completely on the task at hand, nerves melt away. Of course, a little pressure can be helpful. For me performing keeps me on my “A” game.
What’s your superpower?
I was born with a skill for public speaking, especially when it’s something I’m passionate about. My dad was a preacher, so I watched him do a lot of public speaking while I was growing up. In college, I earned a forensics scholarship, using my ability as a speaker and debater to pay for my education.
What’s your favorite part of teaching?
I like working one-on-one with students. Finding a new way to explain a concept and seeing that moment when things click for a student. I love watching students learn and grow and do something new. I get to see students spread their wings and fly.
What achievement are you most proud of?
I got my Masters’ degree in my 40s in Christian ministry and therapy. I work with kids in my spare time, coaching them and helping them set goals.
What’s something your students and colleagues may not know about you?
I have a radio DJ license. I received it when I was in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1990 the summer before college. I worked as the weekend DJ at Magic 98.9 FM for two summers in Alaska.
When you’re not teaching at Knopman Marks, where are you most likely to be?
At a volleyball tournament, since I coach for the middle school; at a show choir competition; reading something on learning strategies: rehearsing or performing in a musical; or most likely, being a mom somewhere and everywhere.
“We all have a voice to use. Our choice is how we use it. I use mine for positive juju.” – Melissa Hunt