Melissa began her swimming career as a member of the Cranston YMCA swim team under the guidance of Paul Rossi. lt was not long before she developed into an extremely versatile swimmer. During her years at the Cranston YMCA, Melissa broke many Rhode Island age group and YMCA records. She later competed for the Brown Swim Club and Little Rhody Aquatic Club, coached by Ed Reed and Rich Burrows, where she continued to break state swimming records in both age group and open divisions in all strokes and distances. During her teen years, Melissa broke and held more than 40 Rhode Island age group and open records. From 1978 to 1980, she was the dominant female at the Rhode Island Swimming Championships, winning a total of twelve events and establishing state records in many events in the process. Melissa was often a New England Swimming All-Star and was named Rhode Island Swimmer of the Year by the Rhode Island

Swimming Coaches and Officials Association in 1980.

Melissa also competed as a member of the Cranston High School East team coached by Rick Kavanagh. Although the team was co-ed at the time, Melissa was one of its stars. She was named to the Rhode Island Swim Coaches Association All-Star team in three events as a junior and three different events in her senior season in which she was also Co-Captain of the Cranston East team. Melissa received a swimming scholarship to Northeastern University and, despite a life-threatening automobile accident in the spring of her senior year in high school was a four-year letter winner and broke the school record in the 200-yard backstroke.

Melissa works in the biotechnology field as a sales representative for Amgen. She has been living in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, but recently moved to Lititz, Pennsylvania with her husband, K. J. Stutz and their two children, Riley Elizabeth and John.