Student Spotlight


Melanie always knew she wanted to attend college, but never dreamed she would be headed to Harvard University on a full scholarship. Melanie’s parents never went to college; in fact, her mother was unable to attend high school. 

DTS encouraged Melanie to explore colleges in California and beyond the state. She attended a summer program at MIT while in high school and experienced life away from home. DTS worked with her parents to tackle financial aid forms and understand the whole admissions process. The commitment was significant for both Melanie and her parents, but her mother was thrilled when Melanie received her scholarship. “Through Melanie we have realized our American dream. We are so proud of her and proud to be part of the program that supported her in achieving her own dreams.”

On track to graduate from Harvard in 2022, Melanie is planning to concentrate in environmental science and public policy with a secondary in economics. Outside of class, she is involved with a consulting group that focuses on company sustainability and works with RAZA, a Mexican-American cultural group, as well as with Harvard’s Youth to Youth homeless shelter.

“DTS has been my champion throughout my journey to and in college. They not only prepared me for the rigor of Harvard, but also provided me with the resources to be successful and the attitude to put myself out there. They still encourage me to push myself and remind me that I am capable. Most importantly, they always care – having that connection is what exemplifies what DTS is and means to me.”


Diana, a 2020 Franklin & Marshall College graduate with degrees in Public Health and Studio Art, looks back on her journey:

“Before joining Determined to Succeed, I was just a student trying to fulfill my immigrant parents’ dream and pursue an education for a better future. My parents are from Puebla, Mexico and immigrated to Los Angeles. However, when I became a part of DTS, I began to grow in ways that weren’t just about my education: I challenged my fear of heights by completing a 32-mile hike to the peak of Mount San Gorgonio. I learned how to navigate the NYC subway system by attending Barnard’s pre-college program, twice! I learned valuable professional skills such as film editing at UCLA. Collectively, these life experiences motivated me to consider attending college outside of California.

Ultimately, I ended up accepting a full financial aid package to Franklin & Marshall in Pennsylvania. My journey with DTS prepared me to be a successful student and community member at F&M, as well as continue to seek opportunities outside of my education. At F&M, I was a Resident Advisor where I mentored upperclassmen students. I studied abroad in five different countries, conducted biochemistry research, and was able to find the purpose for my education through the Future Public Health Leaders Program at the University of Michigan. I don’t know if I would have been able to accomplish all these experiences without the support I received through DTS in high school and college. Even though I was 2,644 miles away, DTS staff were only a phone call away.”