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Maria Melecio

#242 Maria Melecio, Class of 2011, Transfer to California State University, San Bernardino Palm Desert Campus
(Associates of Arts in Business Administration)

First steps are so important in everything, especially in our education. I can’t say enough about College of the Desert and how they helped me take the first step on my path. There are so many that have contributed so much to help me pursue and succeed in my educational endeavors. I am a proud first generation American born in the United States. My parents originally emigrated from Mexico to the United States as farm workers. Like all immigrants, they were looking for opportunities and a better life. Through their hard work I was blessed with many opportunities of growing up in the Coachella Valley.

I am the oldest of four siblings. My brothers and sister consider me to be not only their older sister, but a second mother as well. At a young age, I was entrusted with taking care of my siblings because my parents work. Even now, I have to look over homework assignments, help with school projects, prepare meals, and attend school events.

When I learned English, I was given more responsibilities because my parents only speak Spanish. I was in charge of reading legal documents, translating, and helping them make the financial decisions of my family. For example, I recently helped my parents refinance their home.I learned quickly how important education is and graduated from Palm Desert High School with honors. While in high school, I worked part-time. I was fortunate to receive scholarships and grants to further my education.

I attended College of the Desert, and used the scholarship money to pay for my first year at COD, to buy my textbooks, and to pay for my classes. I worked hard and was rewarded as I was admitted to COD’s EOP (Education Opportunity Program) in my sophomore year in college. My EOP counselor, Carol Amelia Lasquade helped me select the correct courses to transfer to California State University, San Bernardino Palm Desert Campus. Also, Mrs. Lasquade helped me enroll for EOP at CSUSB Palm Desert Campus. Thanks to Carol, I completed my Associates of Arts in Business Administration in 2011 and transferred with honors.

As a result, I transferred to California State University, San Bernardino Palm Desert Campus in pursuit of a Bachelors of Arts in Finance. Thanks to Dr. Estes my professor, mentor, and advisor, (who has been like a second father) who in my junior year gave me an exception to enter his finance course that was full. That course was pivotal in my academic direction. As a minority, I knew my journey would be challenging in a pre-dominantly male oriented industry and it became more apparent in my senior year as the only female in the program. Thanks to Dr. Estes and Jill Rice (his daughter), they encouraged and gave me confidence that I was very capable to pursue a finance degree.

I graduated in June 2013, and received Cum Laude and Departmental Honors in Finance. It was a great personal accomplishment to reach this goal and I became the first one in my family to receive a college degree with distinction. Also, this goal would not have been possible without attending College of the Desert and without the help of Carol, my COD counselor, who helped me and believed that I was going to be successful. As a result, I finished my bachelor’s degree early in the Winter of 2013.

After graduating from CSUSB Palm Desert Campus, I was given the opportunity to intern at Rabobank as a financial analyst and learn about income property during the summer. Also, I volunteered at CSUSB PDC as a finance tutor and CVEP (Coachella Valley Economic Partnership) with Lanztech, which helps the Hispanic community with business start-ups.

Since I knew I wanted to become a financial advisor and help make a difference in people’s financial lives, I am now a fully licensed Investment Advisor representative and building my financial planning practice in Indian Wells. I am affiliated with Waddell & Reed, a nationally recognized financial services firm. My goal is to develop my practice by helping people attain the financial goals important in their financial lives. I also enjoy educating clients to help them in their financial decision making. I look forward to growing my practice and giving back to the community that has given me so much!