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OFFICE DOORS {leadership}

MELISSA TRUJILLO BE A LEADER FOUNDATION

Jamie Killin | CONTRIBUTING WRITER In just three years, it’s expected that nearly 70 percent of Arizona jobs will require post-secondary training. But with rising tuition costs, many Americans aren’t seeing the value in higher education. Melissa Trujillo, president and CEO of the Be A Leader Foundation, is trying to change that. “We know that the rising cost of college can often prevent students from seeing the value that a college degree can have in their careers and lives but the fact is that those with a college degree still earn nearly a million dollars more over their lifetime than those with only a high school diploma,” she said. Trujillo, a first-generation college student, founded the organization with her husband Gary, also a first-generation college student, 15 years ago. “My journey towards a degree was definitely not easy,” said Trujillo. “So, when Gary and I were thinking of how we could 20 | FRONTDOORSMEDIA.COM

best give back, we knew that access to the mentoring, college-going information and support that was lacking in our lives was the clear answer on how to best support the next generation of leaders in our community.” She began her higher education without understanding financial aid and scholarships and is now passionate about empowering students with the information they need to make the best decisions possible for their education. “As the first in my family to receive a college degree, the journey was definitely a struggle,” she said. “Not understanding the process was certainly a detriment to me while in high school. The conversation at home certainly did not involve college so I had to learn about the college process through peers at school.” Like Trujillo, many of the students the Be A Leader Foundation works with come from families in which parents did not

JULY 2017

Frontdoors - July 2017  
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