Daisy Leon Melendrez: Alumni Vision Award

By Yollette Merritt
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The 2019 California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) Alumni Vision awardee is Daisy Melendez – collaborative health and human services (CHHS) major and minor in service learning, and graduating with a GPA of 3.94. The Alumni Vision Award is given to the graduating undergraduate or graduate student who best exemplifies the vision of CSUMB of preparing leaders for a collaborative, multicultural society.

The award is given to a student who manifests the beliefs and tenets of the vision statement through personal example, voice and initiative. It is awarded to a powerful spokesperson whose words touch and move others in promoting the vision. This person has provided leadership in a project or activity that extended the vision into the lives of others. especially in the areas of bridging social/economic divides, empowering education, celebrating diversity, and promoting understanding and respect for other cultures and global awareness; and is in good standing.

Although humble in regards to her accomplishments Melendrez was chosen as she fulfills these requirements and even more. “At first, I was in total shock when I learned I was chosen for the award. I couldn’t believe it,” said Melendrez. “I’m grateful to all my mentors at CSUMB and for the encouragement given to me to apply for the award.”

As a first-generation college student whose parents are immigrants, Melendrez is familiar with the challenges and hurdles of navigating the educational roadmap of higher education and becoming a successful student. “Coming from an immigrant family, I have seen the obstacles and challenges that my own parents face for not having a higher education,” said Melendrez.

As a student in younger years, Melendrez at first did not consider continuing onto college. Once that option became feasible, as an only child, Melendez wanted to stay local realizing how important it was to receive support from her parents. “The main reason I picked CSUMB is because of the focus on serving diverse groups of individuals. What I find most unique about the education and the vision statement of CSUMB is the university’s commitment toward teaching students about their surrounding communities through service learning courses,” said Melendrez.

“The CSUMB vision statement describes exactly the skill sets and knowledge I have obtained by attending this university. As the CSUMB vision statement declares that ‘the university will invest in preparation for the future through integrated and experimental use of technologies as resources to people, catalysts for learning, and providers of increased access and enriched quality learning,’ I truly believe that through the years at CSUMB, I have had the preparation I need to succeed in the future.”

Melendrez has had opportunities to put the CSUMB vision into practice. With the valued support of mentors throughout her college career including Pamela Motoike, Deborah Burke, Jim Raines, Seth Pollack and Kim Judson, and others, coupled with her work in the Service Learning Institute as a student leader, Melendrez has developed into not only a successful CSUMB student, but also a leader in the community.

“For the past three years, I have had the opportunity to grow more in my leadership and social justice skills sets,” said Melendrez. “This all started when I was offered by the CSUMB Service Learning Institute to be a service learning student leader for the Central Coast Citizenship Project. Through this leadership job, not only do I train and mentor CSUMB students that wish to complete their service hours at this agency, but I have also had the opportunity to serve the Salinas community,” continued Melendrez.

Her success has made her an inspiration not only to her parents and other family members who are older, but also to pre-college age nieces and nephews still in school. She has not forgotten her roots, family and community, but has become a proactive champion of their rights and works to address their needs. Her recommendation to current and future CSUMB students is “to come with an open mind and don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is really important, don’t give up. Family and friends, as well as mentors, are the main support, continue on the path even though it’s difficult.”

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