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The Love She Gives

Melissa Ruth Gonzalez’s love for activism is expressed through her curiosity of the world. She enjoys questioning the world around her because she believes people are uncomfortable with the idea of diving deeper into the unknown. In her time at PRHS, Gonzalez has questioned school curriculum, leadership, representation, and even herself. Asking, “How can I make a difference?” 

Towards the end of her junior year, Gonzalez’s activism took off when PRHS Social Studies teacher Geoffrey Land asked her to be on a team to get the Ethnic Studies course passed during the well documented battle in May and June 2021 with the PRJUSD school board.

“Mel was one of the radical change maker students who advocated for the Ethnic Studies class, writing letters, speaking before the school board, and expanding community awareness about the need for the class. She helped make Ethnic Studies happen, and for that we should all be incredibly grateful!” said Land

Gonzalez stated she is passionate about Ethnic Studies because the class acknowledges marginalized groups and the curriculum isn’t told through a eurocentric standpoint. Gonzalez wants the 51% Latino student body to be represented in books, staff, and school board. Gonzalez strove to achieve this goal on Mar. 23, 2021 and Apr. 13, 2021 when she gave speeches to the school board on why she believed the ethnic studies class should be instated. As she stepped to the podium those evenings with her heart racing and hands trembling, she told herself that these days would make history at Paso High. 

“I hope you can hear in my voice just how passionate I am about this class because I would love to take this course as a senior and open the door for future Bearcats” Gonzalez said at an Apr. board meeting. “I want to look back five years from now and know that I was part of something big that shaped Paso High and amplified the voices of the unheard and underrepresented.” 

 After the ethnic studies course was passed, Gonzalez didn’t stop in her quest for representation. She was elected as the president of A.C.T (Activist Coalition of Tomorrow) Club where she hosted events geared towards celebrating different backgrounds. Gonzalez advocated for Native American and Hispanic Heritage months by helping create features on A.C.T’s instagram to raise awareness. She collabed with different clubs such as BSU and MEcha to host an Oct. diversity chalk and talk as well as helping with the Coming Out against Hate Forum Oct. 20, 2021.She has also hosted peaceful protest walks such as sexual assult for Atasadero High School on Dec. 2021 and MLK walk downtown a month later. Gonzalez also played a key role in PRHS’s first Baile, a dance that celebrated Hispanic culture and invited all to participate. 

“Passionate, honest, and insightful” are just a few words students and teachers use to describe Gonzalez. Gonzalez’s close friend Lupita Covarruvias, describes her as an influential figure in her life because she always encourages her to do better. 

“She is always passionate about something and she is always helping other people. She has influenced my life by always making me think I can do better and I can accomplish anything. I hope Melissa has a bright future because she has already accomplished so much. I want all her dreams to come true because she truly does deserve it.”

Lupita Corrovuvius

Gonzalez was featured in an Mar. 22, 2022 LA Times article for her work in getting ethnic studies passed, and was awarded the Radical Changemaker Award and the Sacajawea Medal of Valor in 2021. These awards are given to social justice leaders that are dedicated to racial justice in education.  In the awards presentation, the students were recognized for embodying “the passion, intelligence, and civic engagement of a new generation dedicated to social justice and a more truthful telling of our nation’s diverse histories.  She was recognized for the Retired Teacher Association scholarship and the Mother’s of Peace Scholarship on June 5, 2022. 

With over 10 years of community service experience with her church Vida Nueva and softball team, Gonzalez works to make herself and her community better. In her free time she loves laughter, friendship, diversity, conversation, and building connections between people. Gonzalez’s desire to make a positive difference in the world is constantly expanding her intellectual frameworks while being recognized by many.

               “I like that Mel not only talks the talk, but she walks the walk. She lives her values, keeping an open mind to those who view things differently while advocating (with love and humor) for badly needed systemic change,” said Land

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