We are super psyched to introduce you to our #LeaderBear Spotlight of the week, Melvi Cifuentes. Melvi is someone who has greatly exemplified the Public Affairs Mission through her time at Missouri State.
Melvi is expecting to graduate from Missouri State in 2018 with a degree in Political Science. Her top 5 strengths are: resilience, hardworking, honest, empathetic, and responsible.
Although Melvi hasn’t participated in of our Leadership programs like Centennial Leaders, Emerging Leaders, or Distinction of Public Affairs, she has developed her leadership skills through some amazing opportunities.
In the January 2017, Melvi volunteered at the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAÍCES) an NGO in San Antonio, TX. She was sent to work at the Karnes Detention Center which detains women and children where she learned about asylum laws and was able to help people begin the process for seeking asylum. Which, in turn, would help people be released from the detention center.
Melvi has also volunteered at the non-profit Hand-in-Hand in Springfield, where she was able to help them get their Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) accreditation. They can now help people with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) paperwork.
As for a future event, Melvi and Eduardo Espinoza Jr. are board members for Uniendo Nuestros Orígenes (UNO). UNO is a Latinx organization on campus and they are currently trying to have 10 Latinx MSU students attend the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI) Conference in the Spring of 2018.
When asked to reflect on what has impacted her the most from her experiences, this is what Melvi had to say…
My volunteer work that has been focused primarily on immigrant issues has truly impacted me. My time at the detention center helped me narrow my decision down on what to do once I graduate. I will be applying for law school soon in hopes of learning more about immigration federal law and pursuing it. Also, taking a leadership role my senior year has been challenging, but rewarding. UNO is a very young organization and it is on the top of my list to ensure we continue to carry on what the founders wanted. The Latinx population at MSU is small, but it is important that UNO grows so that it can provide more resources and support than it does now.
Melvi also has some great advice for younger students…
My advice would be to get involved and to go out and volunteer. You meet so many great people when you do. By being exposed to different opportunities you can see what you’re really passionate about and pursue once you’ve graduated from MSU.