Melissa's experience in foster care sparked her determination to improve the child welfare system. She graduated from San Diego State University in 2014 on the Dean's List, earning a double major in Psychology and Sociology and a minor in Social Work.
Her first speaking engagement was at the age of 18 as a Youth Ambassador for the Temecula Foster Youth Task Force. To date, she has conducted hundreds of trainings and presentations to foster parents, social workers, school staff, volunteers and community partners. Her advocacy efforts have included collaboration with FosterClub, Casey Family Programs, the National Foster Youth Institute, Foster Youth in Action, Foster Care Alumni of America and numerous local agencies. In 2017, she met with Commissioner Jerry Milner to lift up key priority issues voiced by foster youth. Melissa currently works as an Educational Liaison for foster youth in San Diego County.
Melissa believes education is the great equalizer. In the future, she plans to pursue a Masters degree so that she can take her advocacy to the next level.