Melissa: A Pro Bono Success Story

Written by: Michael Trivette

Melissa’s story is one of overcoming multiple obstacles in her pursuit of higher education.  Melissa is a first-generation college student from Mexico, and although Georgia has been her home since she was very young, she was unable to receive state and federal aid to attend college due to her residency status. In Georgia, students like Melissa are banned from attending the state’s five most competitive institutions, including the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech, and students attending the state’s other public institutions must pay the out-of-state/international tuition rates, which can often exceed in-state rates by as much as three or four times.

While Melissa was eventually able to enroll at Emmanuel College (GA), financial obstacles prevented her from continuing her studies.  Shortly thereafter, Melissa sought assistance from Freedom University, an organization helping underserved students access postsecondary education and with which our team partnered.  When we first met Melissa, we were impressed by her determination and enthusiasm for her dream school, Dartmouth College.

Initially, Melissa was worried about disclosing the obstacles that she faced as a result of her circumstances, and wasn’t quite sure how admissions officers would view her application.  Andrew and I subsequently encouraged Melissa to take pride in her identity and to use her application and essays to highlight the adversity she had overcome just to be able to apply to college.  In our minds, we knew admissions officers at Dartmouth and other selective colleges would see Melissa’s potential.  Over the course of several months, we helped Melissa craft her story and complete her applications.  Several months later, Melissa received an official acceptance letter from Dartmouth College.  She was ecstatic and so were we!

Melissa’s story is just one of the many reasons why College Transitions remains fully committed to pro bono work and to ensuring college access for all students.  We look forward to following Melissa in the years ahead and we can’t wait to see what she accomplishes next!