Bright Prospect College Grad Admitted to Prestigious Princeton Fellowship Summer Program

Melissa Candell, a Ganesha High School alum and 2016 graduate of UC Berkeley, was one of 25 students nationwide accepted into the Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) program at Princeton University.

The PPIA is an eight-week summer program where participants take classes in public policy and international affairs to prepare them for graduate school and/or careers in those fields. The application process is very competitive, with roughly 500 students applying for 100 spots spread across four universities, which are Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, Princeton, and the University of Michigan.

When Melissa was eight, she came to the U.S. with her mother and settled in Los Angeles and later in Pomona. Melissa saw her mom experience frequent job instability as a housekeeper, nanny and sweat shop worker. She struggled to earn enough money to make ends meet for herself and Melissa. They were so food insecure that one Christmas, her mother, grandmother, and Melissa split a tamale three ways because it was all they could afford to buy.

During her sophomore year at Ganesha High, Melissa heard about Bright Prospect. She wanted to join the program so she could obtain a good education and make a better life for herself and her mom. Before, she never imagined that someone in her shoes would be able to attend college, but Bright Prospect showed her that it was possible. Melissa chose to attend Mt. SAC because it was close to home and financially accessible, and she made it her goal to transfer to a four-year university. Melissa earned straight A’s at Mt. SAC and transferred to UC Berkeley.

Melissa says she is forever grateful to Bright Prospect for helping her through the college process and for securing the financial aid necessary in order for her to attend Berkeley.  She emphasizes that Bright Prospect is a warm, welcoming community where staff members genuinely care about the students and understand their struggles.  

Congratulations, Melissa, on your graduation from Berkeley and your admission to the PPIA program at Princeton!  We are so proud of you!
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