Melissa graduated from Northeastern Illinois University cum laude with a major in Sociology. As an immigrant herself, she focused her studies on better understanding the interconnectedness of race, immigration, and labor inequality. She became fascinated with legal organizations (including the Legal Defense Fund) that fought alongside Black communities to help solidify their rights into law, and became passionate about the idea that the same could be done for her community and the ongoing labor abuses many of them face.
After graduating, Melissa joined Uptown People’s Law Center (UPLC) a legal aid organization litigating cases on behalf of the imprisoned and providing direct legal services to vulnerable communities. She worked as a paralegal for over four years, where she collaborated with a dedicated legal team to assist individuals experiencing housing insecurity, and she spearheaded efforts to help formally imprisoned individuals with disabilities obtain much-needed benefits. She joined UPLC, eager to learn about the impacts of our carceral system, and is committed to providing the highest level of legal representation.
Outside of work, she likes to support organizations fighting for the rights of immigrants impacted by the legal system. She attends deportation hearings, helps send books to people in detention centers, and uses her multilingual skills to translate information during immigration proceedings.
Melissa plans to attend law school part-time in the fall of 2023 where she will continue learning how she can best work toward the advancement of systemic change for communities disproportionately deprived and in need of their rights.