True Student Stories: Melissa Barragan, Boston University

Freelance Writer

What's college really like? Leave it to someone who's been there to tell you! Meet Melissa Barragan, a recent graduate of Boston University.  

The daughter of a Peruvian mother and Ecuadorean father, Spanish was Melissa’s first language. “Growing up in a Latin household was hectic. My parents worked very long hours and spoke very little English, so we couldn’t rely on them too much when doing homework. Sometimes that was pretty frustrating.”

Melissa says that she didn’t begin to learn English herself until she was five years old so she didn’t always understand what was being said. She was an ESL (English as a Second Language) student until the third grade, and remembers still struggling with English until her upper elementary school years. “Thankfully,” she says, “my sisters and I were self-motivated despite the language barrier.”

College was a given for Melissa and her sisters. As immigrants, her parents strongly stressed that education was the pathway to success in America, and they worked hard to ensure the girls would have the opportunity to attend college.

It was in Arlington High School in Lagrangeville, New York, that Melissa says she really felt a calling to become a teacher. She also was very busy: playing basketball, working on the yearbook as a sports editor, and organizing blood drives were some of her favorite activities.

Graduating from high school in 2006, Melissa chose the same school as her sister Natalie, who had recently graduated from Boston University (BU). “I visited campus, was impressed with the program, applied for early admission, and was accepted.” While she missed her home and family, Melissa loved both BU and the city of Boston. “I had the most wonderful professors,” she says. “I would do it all over again if I could!” Her favorite activities was running along the Charles and taking long walks. “I would venture out on my own, exploring downtown Boston and surrounding cities.”

She especially loved BU’s location. “If you ever have an opportunity to walk in the city of Boston, you’ll see the eclectic tastes of its residents and appreciate the diversity that is a characteristic of Beantown.”

One of the most important aspects of college, she believes, is the opportunity for growth. “College is a time for gaining independence,” she explains, “and BU and Boston gave that to me.”

Following graduation in 2010, Melissa enrolled in Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, to study educational psychology. She was awarded her master’s degree in 2012. A little later this year Melissa will marry her fiancé, Luis Cruz, and then continue her career in education either on the secondary or college level.

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