Maria Melendrez (she/her) is the Assistant Director for the Office of Global-Local Affairs (GLA) at Loyola Marymount University (LMU). As a DACAmented professional, she feels extremely privileged to work with a team committed to promoting global learning experiences through initiatives that are inclusive, diverse, and equitable. Prior to joining LMU, Maria served as the First-Generation (First-Gen), Low-Income and Undocumented Immigrant Student Coordinator at Pomona College, a member of the Claremont Colleges, to develop institutional capacity to address the challenges faced by minoritized students. In her current role, Maria draws from her 10 years of professional experiences in admissions, career services, and student affairs to develop, plan, and implement specialized projects related to comprehensive local and internationalization strategic partnerships. Her goal is to cultivate cross-institutional relationships and collaborate with faculty, staff, and students, on- and off- LMU’s campus, to cultivate a forward-thinking community that pursues knowledge, inspires creativity, and promotes equity and social justice. Maria’s passion for higher education steams from the mentoring she received to gain admissions to Pitzer College with a full tuition scholarship and successfully graduate with a B.A. in Sociology. Her experiences as a First-Gen, Undocumented, Woman of Color and the community she worked with at Pomona College encouraged her to earn an MA in Higher Education/Student Affairs and an “Allies of Dreamers” certificate from Claremont Graduate University. Her future goals include pursuing a doctorate with a focus on First-Gen student success and Global DEI.