Alezaihvia Melendez

Last updated: 2013

Alezaihvia Melendez

2013 Beat the Odds Honoree

Most elementary-aged children are concerned with sports, toys, and games; Alezaihvia was worried about food, shelter, and abuse. Her mother was 16 years old when she brought Alezaihvia into the world. She was not ready to be a mom, and she spent many nights away from home drinking and partying. Alezaihvia’s father, 20, was an alcoholic who used and sold drugs.  The two parents fought constantly. Alezaihvia remembers vividly the sight of her father beating her mother and “dragging her around like a dog.” The abuse continued, until Alezaihvia brought home her first high school report card, she had earned all A’s. Her mom wanted a better life for her and her children, this meant leaving dad. At first her family struggled financially; they moved frequently, from apartments, to studios, to friend’s couches.  Some nights they had no food to eat. Alezaihvia was no longer worried about the abuse; she was worried about food and shelter. Alezaihvia and her family are in a much better place, although they still struggle financially, her mom being the sole provider for the family.

Alezaihvia is determined to succeed despite the challenges she faces at home, and her performance in and out of the classroom reflect that determination. She earned As and Bs her first three years of high school and now as a junior maintains a 3.72 GPA. In 2012, she was awarded honors with distinction for her academic achievement. Outside of the classroom, Alezaihvia is president of the Science Club, an all-star defender on the soccer team, a field organizer at the Community Coalition, a member of the Building Healthy Communities Initiative, and at some point held down two jobs as a baby sitter and assistant hairstylist.

Alezaihvia dreams of becoming a doctor and returning to her community to provide affordable medical care. She is determined to prove the statistics and stereotypes about disadvantaged minorities wrong. “I will be somebody important in life,” she asserts. “I will graduate high school, go to college and become a doctor.”