Melen, initially, did not see college an option, but instead as an extra step to take. Her older sister was attending an out-of-state college and knew that it would soon be her turn. That’s when she found College Access Now (CAN), now College Possible: Washington.
In high school, Melen knew about College Possible during her sophomore year because of a visiting coach who often helped out during advisory and language arts periods. She often popped into the College Possible office for snacks and supplies and was always grateful for its support.
“I thought of college as the next step, but did not think about the emotional view of college.”
Her coach, Lia, had her think about the huge transition and the re-evaluation that would soon to come. During her senior year, she also got involved in another program called Summer Search, that educated youth about outdoor education.
“Why was this only open to certain people?”
Melen often asked upon her reflection that her cohorts were lacking students of color in Summer Search. This sparked her passion for giving access to open/outdoor education to young students of color.
With the support of her College Possible coach and with her mentors in Summer Search, Melen was accepted into the University of Washington. It was a huge transition for her, though, as she felt isolated from her peers. To tackle the loneliness, Melen sought out clubs, counselors, received an entrepreneurship from Foster School of Business, and even study abroad in Spain! She explained that even though she felt lonely at times, she still found community and found the importance of collaborative work.
After earning her Bachelor’s degree in Communications, she moved to New York to work in fitness marketing, but unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Melen was let go from her job, and began to plan out her next steps.
“Did I want to continue this work? Am I happy in my field?” Melen asked.
She went back to reach out to her mentor with Summer Search, and with much discussion, Melen came back to College Possible as a coach supporting high school seniors.
Only after one month, she was able to work with students in completing their UW applications and since then, haves been creating more memorable moments. “I’m enjoying it! Higher education and making it accessible is definitely something I am passionate about!”
When asked to give advice to current College Possible students, she said, “It’s easy to feel alone, but you’re not. You can still make an individual workspace turn into a collaborative community.”