University Prep (UP!) alumnus, Melanny Lemus, was born in Guatemala City and came to the U.S. with her family when she was 10 years old.
She first learned about UP! through her two older siblings who were a part of the program before her, and joined the program in 7th grade.
Melanny said that UP! offered different activities and workshops for students to learn life lessons, which boosted her self-esteem and confidence because it gave her the opportunity to represent UP! through various public speaking events. She said it was a great experience because it helped her become more comfortable during interviews and gave her the knowledge and tools to work collaboratively with others.
Melanny said that being in UP! helped her grow, both professionally and intellectually because of the extra support UP! provided for her and her family starting in her middle school years. She learned how to work on a team and what it means to be a part of a community. She is also thankful that Canal Alliance introduced her to 10,000 Degrees, another college success program that supported her academically. During her time with 10,000 Degrees, she held a position as a Student Ambassador and Mentor for other students in the program.
Melanny graduated from Sonoma State University in 2019 as a double major with a BA in Spanish and a BS in Business Administration with a concentration in Management. During her time at Sonoma State, Melanny was the President of the Spanish Club.
Melanny was able to create a little community at Sonoma State, “Every single day since my first day of college I would sit at the school café, and gather with other students to study and hang out. We supported each other and gave each other advice from our college experience which helped us network within our little group and navigate the process of finding new resources and getting into courses.”
Melanny also said that UP! helped her financially during her college career, “Canal Alliance was always checking on me, showing me that they were always there and cared about my education. Even after getting my degree, my family and I were aided financially by Canal Alliance at the start of the pandemic.”
Looking back on her college experience, Melanny would tell herself that it is ‘okay to not be perfect’. “There are times when things don’t come out the way you envisioned them and you have to learn how to adapt and learn from those experiences; to leave fear behind and not be scared to talk to new classmates because they probably felt the same way I did.”
Melanny has advice to share to current and prospective UP! students: “I would tell UP! students to take advantage of every opportunity you are given. Not everyone gets these chances. As an UP! student you have extra support and need to cherish it because from my experience, the UP! staff will always try their best to be there for you, whether it’s finding needed resources or helping you with a job search. For those who are considering joining UP!, don’t hesitate. It’s one of the best things you can do to prepare for your future.”
At the moment, Melanny is taking a break from school during the pandemic. “I know myself and I wanted to go straight for my Masters but I can’t learn online. I’m currently working with kids as a nanny. I love kids and I love learning from them.”