Student Highlight: The Making of an Artist

Like every true artist, Melanie knew she was unique and struggled to find a voice, but her creativity and curiosity for life shine through in her medium of choice: writing. We first met Melanie when she was in 9th grade in high school at the New Open World Academy. She was navigating the nuances of becoming a young adult who was looking for a “space” to call her own and we have been privileged to witness her growth.

9th and 10th grades were not easy for Melanie. “My grades were low during that time because of mental health issues I was facing,” she explains. “Regardless, I was able to recover my grades and eventually my mental health as well.” She attributes this success to staying focused on her coursework which was crucial in regaining her confidence and drive to keep moving forward.

Writing has always been an outlet for me to express myself. I mostly love writing fiction. I give into my creative side through mysteries, and my political side through social justice issues, especially subjects that affect my everyday life.

She challenged herself with Advance Placement (AP) and college courses and also sought out support from the Fulfillment Fund to help her stay on track. “I know I can accomplish anything I’ve set my mind to because I’ve already done it once before,” she says. Melanie is the first in her family to attend college this fall and sees her education as an opportunity to financially help her mother, who is a single parent.

Melanie took full advantage of our College Access Program offered at her school, attending after-school financial aid and college application workshops, participating in the Northern California college visits overnight trip as well as Destination College. These experiences helped her see the opportunities ahead of her and exposed her to colleges she never knew existed. Before graduating high school, she joined our enrichment program, REAL, which allowed her to build on her leadership skills.

Halfway through her senior year, Melanie had already applied to 10 amazing programs across the state. She has also applied to the Fulfillment Fund’s scholarship program as a supplement to her financial aid applications. She hopes to study film and media production and become a screenwriter one day.

Ultimately, my goal in life is to bring my stories and overall messages to life through the big screen.

STORY UPDATE: Melanie is attending UC Santa Cruz as a Film and Digital Media major. She currently has all A’s in her classes, and though she likes UCSC, she is considering transferring to UCLA. 

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