2022 Outstanding Alumna Award
College of Social Sciences
Born in El Salvador, Ana Jovel Melendez came to the United States when she was 8 years old, reuniting with family already in the U.S. The family made Fresno their home, and Ana started learning English and adjusting to her new environment. She said, “It wasn’t as difficult as you might imagine, because I was a kid and kids are resilient.”
One of the biggest changes Jovel Melendez’s family made upon settling in the U.S. was a pursuit of education. In El Salvador, it was not common for people in her grandparents’, and even her mother’s, generation to get an education past the sixth grade. However, in the U.S., Jovel Melendez’s mom became the first woman in the family to earn a university degree. “She graduated from Fresno State and became a teacher…I think I had the support to then, myself, go on to higher education, and I would say I felt very supported in that way.”
Jovel Melendez graduated from high school and already knew that she wanted to study political science in college. “There was no question about it…I did have to grow up a little bit too fast because of the environment [in El Salvador]. I think now, looking back on it, that I always knew that politics and government affected my life, certainly, and that of others in very, very direct ways.”
As a student at Fresno State, Jovel Melendez became very involved on campus, helping to restart the Political Science Association, which had been a dormant student club for years. Jovel Melendez served as the vice president of the organization, which hosted voter registration drives and invited political candidates to campus for debates and forums.
During her junior year, Jovel Melendez applied for an internship through the Maddy Institute, and she had the opportunity to work in Assemblymember Sarah Reyes’ Fresno office for a semester.
The Maddy Institute continued to open doors for Jovel Melendez, who was able to work in Washington D.C. as a Leon and Sylvia Panetta Institute Scholar during her senior year. That same year, Jovel Melendez was also named a Ronald E. McNair Scholar and a Sally Casanova Fellow for her outstanding scholarship.
Upon her graduation in 2005, Ana continued her public service. “I was hired at U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer’s office right out of college. I gave them a two-year commitment, and that became nine and a half years.”
Read more about Jovel Melendez in Top Dog 2022.
Since 1953, this prestigious award has been presented to our most accomplished alumni. Throughout the years, we have celebrated bright minds, ambitious spirits and bold actions that have made a significant impact in communities across the nation, the globe and in our Valley.
From astronauts and politicians, award-winning actors and poets, NFL athletes and US Olympians, to entrepreneurs and innovators, Fresno State has helped support and grow incredible alumni.
We are proud to celebrate this year’s remarkable alumni and friends and reflect on their notable successes.
Celebrate with us by tuning in for a one-hour televised special of Fresno State’s Top Dog Alumni Awards Sunday, May 1, 2022 on ABC 30 at 7 p.m. (PDT). Live-stream also available at abc30.com and on all ABC connected TV apps.