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Veronica Mellado ‘25 on Building Community as a FGLI Student

October 26, 2022
Veronica Mellado sitting in a chair at The Well

When Veronica Mellado ‘25 first came to Bryn Mawr, she worried she would have a hard time adjusting to college. Mellado says she felt intimidated by higher education as a first-generation low-income (FGLI) student and was concerned that there wouldn’t be many students who would be able to relate to her identity and experience. However, Mellado quickly got plugged into campus groups in her first year, and she is now taking the lead and fostering spaces of community and inclusion at Bryn Mawr as a sophomore. 

One of the first groups that helped Mellado adjust to Bryn Mawr was her Posse Houston cohort. Mellado felt support through her Posse mentor and her weekly meetings with the group.

“I think it’s very normal to feel culture shock when coming onto campus. I’m from the South and it's very different there. That’s one of the reasons why Posse is so important to me. We’re all from Houston and we have a little community here on campus,” says Mellado. 

She also found community through campus resources such as Breaking Barriers, a program for FGLI and/or undocumented students, and Pensby’s BIPOC talks. Mellado enjoys attending BIPOC Talks every Thursday where she and other students have a safe space to come together and share about their experiences.

When Mellado was a first year, she often felt shy and scared to speak up, but going into her sophomore year, she wanted to be more involved with making students from marginalized communities feel comfortable.

“In my first year, I just was just settling in. But now I’m learning how to take space,” says Mellado. 

This year, Mellado is an executive board member for Pulso, the Latinx dance group on campus, and is a member of Mujeres*, a Latinx Alliance of Multicultural Organization (AMO). 

The past few months have been especially important for Mujeres*. As a member, she has been busy since the summer creating programming for Latinx Heritage Month which is celebrated every year from September 15 through October 15. Latinx Heritage Month is important to Mellado because it is a time where students from different backgrounds can come together and experience each other’s cultures through food, music, and dance. 

“We also have events that are open to everyone, so we have people who aren’t Latinx join which I always found really touching because I love to share my culture. I love for others to see the beauty in it especially if they didn’t grow up around that. I want to share where I come from because I’m proud of it, so it’s nice to have other students come and see in a respectful manner,” says Mellado. 

Mellado has also become a Community Diversity Assistant (CDA) this year. CDAs help the Bryn Mawr community understand and celebrate its diversity. They are members of the Dorm Leadership Team (DLT) at Bryn Mawr and act as mediators for conflicts and disputes around issues of diversity in the dorms and hold office hours to answer any questions that residents may have about issues of diversity on campus. 

“It’s important to have those conversations on campus that students may not want to have. As CDAs, we understand that being uncomfortable can be a good thing because that’s how we learn,” says Mellado. 

Mellado also promotes healthy conversations as a member of The Dialogue Project’s first cohort. The Dialogue Project is a new campus program designed to bring different parts of the College together to communicate their viewpoints in a healthy and respectful way. The hope is that these sessions will help build a culture of understanding and belonging at Bryn Mawr. 

Mellado applied because she wanted to be more aware of the different parts of campus, and to hear out their opinions since students do not always have the opportunity to see their perspective. 

“We’re just trying to find ways to talk with each other and not fight with each other. So if we have honest concerns or respectful critiques, they can be given in a respectful way that’s hopefully conducive to change,” says Mellado. 

“I’m someone who likes forming community everywhere I go. I like forming relationships and strengthening them, especially here on campus.”

As someone passionate about creating spaces of community and support, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Mellado has always aspired for a career related to public service. At first she wanted to become a teacher like her mother, and then became a certified pharmacy technician in high school because of her interest in health care, and now Mellado knows that she wants to become an immigration lawyer. Mellado intends to declare a major in political science and a minor in Latin American studies at the end of year and will apply to go to law school after Bryn Mawr. She has been gaining experience as a member of mock-trial, and as an intern for the Harris County Civil Court in Houston. After law school, Mellado plans on supporting the undocumented members of her hometown community.