Jessica Melgarejo Devins, Cohort 2008 F

Tell us the story about how you came to Reach for Excellence…

My catechism teacher recommended me to the program through my childhood church (Holy Cross Catholic Church). I applied and was lucky enough to be selected.

What memories from Reach for Excellence stand out to you?

I remember the friends I made, some of whom I still keep in touch with. I remember the trips to several schools and universities, especially UGA. These trips instilled a desire in me to attend these schools. Without these trips and this attention, I don’t know if my desire would have been as strong. I also remember my music, theatre and dance classes, which sparked my creative side that I still try to exercise to this day.

What aspect of Reach for Excellence was the most challenging for you?

I remember math and science always being challenging – however, Reach’s teachers and their attention and patience made me always strive to do better even where I struggled.

What would you like current Reach for Excellence students to know?

You can really achieve anything if you apply yourself. In a world that seems rigged and stacked against you, your work ethic and your drive will speak for you and help you accomplish the impossible.

Tell us about your journey after Reach for Excellence.

After I went to Reach, I felt like college was my ultimate goal. Reach made me focus and keep my eye on the prize, which was UGA. After I graduated from UGA, I wanted to go even further and attend law school. Now I’m a semester away from graduating law school, and my goal is to give back to my community the way my community gave back to me.

What did you learn in Reach for Excellence that has stayed with you?

Focus, focus, focus. I still struggle with distractions like any human being, but Reach taught me that my work and my drive will get me places.

What is one thing about Reach for Excellence you hope will never change?

Their diversity in students – I met kids from all walks of life, and I’ll always be grateful for the people I met and my experiences.

If you could speak to a Reach for Excellence supporter right now, what would you say?

Know that your money is well-spent here. These kids (myself included) and what their futures hold after attending this program are proof that Reach and its teachings work. I’m proof that they work.