Melissa Trevino almost gave up. It had taken several starts and stops for her to pursue her college education, but her parents, migrant field workers, had instilled in her the importance of an education. Still, as a “nontraditional student,” the only breadwinner in her family, and faced with health challenges for herself and her husband, her focus on school was foundering.
“What saved me was TRiO Student Support Services team,” she says, of the program designed to support and empower first-generation, low-income students and students with disabilities. “The academic mentoring advisors really helped put things in perspective, and we talked about applying for scholarships that might ease my financial burden.” However, having always viewed her “nontraditional student” label as a deficit, Trevino didn’t imagine her story would inspire support for a scholarship. Yet the TRiOteam taught her that nontraditional students are often innovators, agents of change, and gave her the confidence to apply for the financial help she so desperately needed.
“I was able to see my strengths,” she says, “like resiliency, my supportive family, and my unique attributes. I was finally able to see myself and my educational label in a positive light and things began to turn around. This led me to find my college home in the Collaborative Health and Human Services major. I wanted to help my city and my community. I wanted to make a difference, and this was the major that would enable me to do just that."
Through finding her college home and applying for financial help, Trevino was awarded a Women’s Leadership Council scholarship this fall, and anticipates graduating in May, with a concentration in social work and public policy, and a minor in Spanish language, culture and civilization. She is currently in the process of applying to pursue her Master’s in Social Work.
"I am so grateful for the support I have received, both emotionally and financially and cannot thank the generous donors to CSUMB enough," Trevino adds.
Trevino is currently an intern at the Avanza Program in the Monterey County Behavioral Health department, which provides mental health services to Transitional Age Youth in Monterey County.
In her community, Trevino is a leader on the Healthcare team with COPA (communities organized for relational power in action), involved in community organizing for healthcare for all Monterey county residents, regardless of immigration status.