Melissa Calderon

Job title: 
L&S College Adviser
Biological Sciences

Title: L&S College Adviser


Biological Sciences

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Joined the office in:
January 2023


MPA (Expected 2024)

B.A Environmental Studies/Biology, B.A Legal Studies

How did you get here?
I am originally from Boyle Heights located in East Los Angeles. I am a first-generation college graduate Latina, who grew up in a low-income household with 4 siblings. After high school, I attended UC Santa Cruz where I had the opportunity to explore all my interests and pursue my passions. I majored in Environmental Studies combined with Biology, and double majored in Legal Studies. While attending UCSC, I began to develop an interest in helping students navigate higher education. I was an academic success mentor, where I mentored first-generation freshmen students who were having a difficult time adjusting to the academic rigor and the culture of higher education. This experience led me to apply to an Academic Intern position in the college access world, that later turned into a professional position. During my time as a college access professional, I worked with programs like EAOP, GEAR UP, Upward Bound, and the Educational Talent Search program. These programs focused on helping first-generation/low-income students pursue post-secondary education through college and career workshops, field trips, and academic advising. The joy of working with high school students led me to want to work with undergraduate students and helping first-generation students navigate the complexities of higher education.

What is your advising philosophy?
As an advisor, I am committed to creating a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment where all students feel valued and supported throughout their undergraduate journey. I actively seek to understand and address any barriers or biases that may impact students' success, and to provide support that is sensitive to their diverse needs and goals. By fostering a supportive and inclusive environment, I hope to empower students to succeed academically and personally, and to feel confident in their ability to navigate the complexities of higher education.

What advice do you have for L&S students in general?
What advice do you have for L&S students in general? The greatest piece of advice I can give students is to be true to yourself and listen to your gut. The beauty in life is that there is no “right” way of doing things. You can explore, change careers, change your lifestyle anytime you want. As long as what you are doing makes you happy. The most important thing is that you are doing the work to become the best version of yourself and that you are content with the choices that you make. Remember, even though you might make a choice that may feel wrong or that may have unexpected consequences, it is still a valuable learning experience, and it still contributes to your growth and makes you more resilient. Lastly, always be kind to yourself. You are constantly changing and becoming new versions of yourself – sometimes we go through rough patches and that is okay. It’s all part of the human experience.

A little more about me:
I enjoy reading, working out, and roller-skating. One of my favorite books that I often recommend to people is For Brown Girls with Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts: A Love Letter to Women of Color. It is such a powerful book that addresses the challenges that brown women face in higher education and professional settings. It is such an empowering book and I encourage you to read it, especially if you identify as a woman of color. In addition to reading, I also enjoy doing yoga and taking care of my mental health – which can mean finding time to do nothing. I love to take time to relax, go on a walk, and just reflect. I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with students at Cal and I am looking forward to interacting with students and helping them through their journey at UC Berkeley.