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Last updated: 2004
Melissa is a bright, young woman who possesses the ability and willingness to see hardship as an opportunity to become a better person. In addition to carrying a rigorous academic load in which she has maintained a 4.0 grade point average, Melissa is an outstanding leader outside the classroom. She is captain of her basketball team, runs on the varsity track team, and is a member of the California Scholarship Federation. Through her hard work and dedication, Melissa is running full speed on her path to attend a top rated university.
What makes Melissa’s accomplishments all the more notable is the tremendous upheaval she experienced at home as a child. Born to parents addicted to alcohol and drugs, Melissa’s home life was saddled with economic uncertainty due to periods of unemployment, drug abuse, and domestic disputes. However, in spite of enduring this trauma throughout her childhood, Melissa not only was determined to be a role model to her younger sister but also chose to focus on her parents’ strengths rather than their weaknesses. As she stated, “Do you become miniature replicas of your parents? Do you completely rebel…or do you take their good parts and mix them with you are, to become even better? I am the latter.”
The Children’s Defense Fund in pleased to help Melissa achieve her dreams and is proud to recognize her as a 2004 Beat the Odds® honoree.