From her humble beginnings— to her upcoming graduation — Mellica Harris, a Vanguard University Business Administration major, opens up about God’s faithfulness and her gratitude for the many people who have helped her along the way.
“Love the Lord and be yourself. That’s the most important thing I’ve learned at VU. I’ve also received a world-class education! Although I didn’t worry about academics, it was my self-worth and identity that I really struggled with. I wasn’t sure who I was or if I was enough. I want to thank the many professors, mentors, and of course the scholarship donors who have made this journey possible. Without the help of so many people, I wouldn’t be graduating in May.”
Growing up, Mellica and her older sister were raised by a single mom whom Mellica describes as a “force to be reckoned with.” Their life wasn’t always easy, but Mellica credits her mom’s determination and God’s goodness in bringing them through.
“When I was 4, my father was arrested and deported back to Jamaica for physically abusing my mom and other illegal activities. My mom was left all alone to raise two young girls. She’s a strong woman though! When I was eight years old, we moved from Los Angeles to Palm Desert to attend better schools and have a better life. In 2009, our apartment burned down and we struggled to find a new home. In the mean time, we slept on relative’s couches and at one point all three of us lived in one room… But mom never gave up, and God saw us through.”
In high school, a few of the Young Adult women at Mellica’s Church, who were also Vanguard University Alumni, brought a group of students to Pre-VU, an annual VU Admissions event for high school and college transfer students. After that experience, Mellica says it was the persistence of admissions counselor Jason Fletcher and God’s provision through scholarships from her local YMCA and Vanguard donors that made her college dreams a reality.
At Vanguard, Mellica flourished. As her studies progressed, Mellica began to take on various leadership roles and responsibilities, such as a Resident Advisor in Catalina Hall, club leadership, and employment as a student worker in the Counseling Center and Disability Services. Mellica credits professors Ed Westbrook and Justin Moser and many staff members, including Kerry Kimble, Elizabeth Banks, Doug Hutchinson, Michele Robison, and Dannae Rushing, for seeing her potential and helping realize her abilities.
“It seems as if everyone here loves what they do and sees their work as more than a job. They go above and beyond to have relationships with students and to model what Godly living and loving really are. The alumni are wonderful to. I’m so grateful for the mentoring network, especially Jennifer Summers who has given me a lot of wonderful career advice and insight. The opportunity to be a part of this amazing community is something I will never take for granted. ”
After graduation, Mellica plans to work in the VU Disability Services office as a full-time employee. Ultimately, her goal is to work as a Human Resource Manager in the area of training and development.
“My life’s verse is Philippians 1:6. I want to help others rest in God’s faithfulness. I want to help them realize that no matter what they’ve gone through in life, God has brought them this far and he’s not going to leave them— now or ever. By helping people reach their career goals, I hope to encourage them that with God’s help they can do anything He calls them to.”
Gifts to the Alumni and Friends Scholarship support deserving students like Mellica.
Thank you for helping them reach their God-given potential and make their stories matter!