When most students get to college, the workload is so much that joining any sort of extracurricular seems out of the question. For psychology major, Melissa Guarino, getting involved on campus was something she never thought twice about.
The twenty-year old native from Indialantic, Florida found her way to UT through the President’s Leadership Fellows program. When asked why she chose UT, Melissa said, “When I was deciding between six Florida schools, I told my parents if I got accepted into as a President’s Leadership Fellow I would go to school at UT. I was having a hard time making a decision so I let that be my deciding factor. The day I got accepted into the program I decided to spend my next four (three and a half) years at UT.” Melissa is a member of Cohort 4 here at UT, who has partnered with a local organization called New Life Village. The program allows the cohort to assist the families within the village and provide positive changes to their lives.
In addition to leadership on campus, Melissa is a part of Greek Life, and is currently the Vice President of Membership for the UT chapter of the Delta Zeta Sorority. Growing up as an only child with two half brothers twice her age, she joined DZ in fall of 2011 and has felt right at home since her first semester at UT. Having held multiple positions within the sorority and most currently VP, she cannot explain in words how much the sisterhood truly means to her. She said, “I’ve learned what it means to truly give and receive love that is ever steadfast, and to challenge each other to grow and become the best young women that we can be.”
An advocate for religion, Melissa most recently joined the Catholic Student Organization at UT. She is responsible for planning an event called Generation Life, which is a group of young people who travel around the country talking at schools and colleges on topics such as chastity, pro-life, and dignity. In regards to CSO, she said, “I love more than anything to talk with people about my faith, share stories, experiences and help each other grow in Christ’s love.” She and fellow student, Lia Quinones, are currently in the process of starting a weekly Bible study for CSO. Although having only joined last semester, Melissa is definitely making her mark with CSO.
Rounding out her involvement on campus, Melissa works for the P.E.A.C.E. Volunteer Center as a Volunteer Coordinator. Each coordinator within P.E.A.C.E. focuses on one social issue, and hers is homelessness. She said, “I am passionate about serving the homeless because I believe we should treat our neighbors as ourselves. I feed myself when I am hungry and these neighbors are much more hungry than I ever will be. We have the means to help and we should in every way that we can.” She currently partnered with Alyssa Duet for an event that raised awareness and funds for an organization called Mary’s Meals, who work to provide meals within schools to children living in poverty in order to encourage education and make sure they are provided for.
After college, Melissa wishes to be a marriage and family counselor. She said, “I believe that giving parents the tools to more effectively play with, teach, nurture and discipline their children can make a world of difference for the entire family. I want to help dysfunctional families become the most loving, thriving family you have ever met.”
When she’s not working for P.E.A.C.E., with her DZ sisters, or volunteering, Melissa can be found spending time with her friends and boyfriend, relaxing at the beach, bike riding, or going on any type of adventure. Her favorite part of UT is the opportunities that she’s had to grow in every aspect of her life, while her least favorite part is the lacking school spirit. When asked what advice she would give to incoming freshmen at UT, she said,” Get involved. You will only get out of college what you put into it. We have an insane number of student organizations here, find one or ten that you’re passionate about and become active members and leaders on campus. You will learn so much about yourself and others if you go outside your comfort zone and get involved.”