Carnegie Mellon University

Melanie Diaz

Rewriting their Story: Scholarships Help Talented Students Who are Primed to Change the World

As a student in the troubled Los Angeles Unified School District, Melanie Diaz was often in classrooms with too many students and too few textbooks. As the child of a single mother on active duty, she was often required carry more responsibilities than other students her age. Despite those challenges, her love of learning helped her graduate from high school with an eye toward college — a college she assumed would be a state college in California, as an out-of-state university would be too costly. A Carnegie Mellon admissions event in Los Angeles changed everythingCMU and Diaz were a perfect match, and scholarship aid put a CMU education within her reach. Her CMU experience ignited a love of international travel, public policy and a desire transform the world.  


She was able to take advantage of opportunities like a Washington, D.C., semester interning for the Council on Hemispheric Affairs and a Public Policy & International Affairs fellowship. “I grew in a way that wouldn’t have been possible somewhere else,” she says. She graduated from the Dietrich College in 2017 with a dual degree in English and Global Studies. She spent the fall 2017 semester as a Fulbright Scholar, teaching English in Spain.  


Diaz plans to teach for several years in the same Los Angeles Unified School District she attended before diving into a master’s program focused on educational policy reform, working to improve the educational experience in L.A. for students who follow after her, hoping to spark change for them as well.