Meet Denise Mellado: a rising star in Barrio Logan College Institute (BLCI)’s senior class of 2023 who is already building an impressive list of accomplishments. Barrio Logan College Institute’s mission is to break the cycle of poverty by preparing underserved students to be the first in their family to go to college through after school programs that begin in third grade. For 26 years, they have accomplished this goal by sending 100% of our seniors to college each year.
Denise joined BLCI’s Chula Vista program nearly ten years ago when she was in third grade and had only heard of one local university, SDSU. Growing up in a single-parent, low-income household meant that college was not necessarily her natural next step. As she prepares to graduate in the spring and become the first in her family to go to college, she reflects on how far she has come and looks ahead at what she will do next.
“When I was younger, BLCI gave me a sense of comfort because I never knew what was going to happen at home and what was going on with my family, but I liked the feeling that I had people there that were helping me stay on track and reassure me that I have control over my future regardless of my background.”
Denise remembers a poster on a wall at BLCI that stuck with her, “Attitude determines 100% of success.” During her most challenging times, she understood how true this was. She learned from BLCI staff that although late nights and early mornings can be tiring, they build good habits and stability for her future. As a result, she developed the skills that have proven necessary along her journey.
“BLCI taught me how to manage my time, my grades, how to balance my bank account, tutored me in writing and math, and taught me to give back to my community” Denise shared with GB Magazine. “This program made me feel like I have a strong hold on my future and made me the type of person that strives to take the harder path and seek leadership roles that make me stronger. If I had not joined this program nine years ago, I do not think I would have ended up in the top ten percent of my class, or even known how to get there! I would not have been prepared for how much dedication and hard work it takes to reach my dreams and aspirations.”
Today, Denise is just months away from graduating from high school and enrolling in college. The skills she developed at BLCI have led her to take on leadership roles in her school yearbook as well as on the cheerleading team. Looking forward, Denise plans to apply to prestigious schools such as Stanford and the University of California Los Angeles, and other universities. For her bachelor’s degree, she plans to study philosophy, political science or communications as a foundation for her eventual goal of attending law school to become an attorney.