Melanie Rojas Silva ’17, Frances Perkins scholar

Melanie Rojas Silva FP’17

Name: Melanie Rojas Silva ’17, Frances Perkins scholar

Hometown: Tampa, Fla.

Major: English and Spanish double major

Campus involvement: I am a Spanish teaching assistant and have been leading the lab for Spanish 209: Composition and Culture, since my junior year. I am also the liaison and a leader of the dinner table conversations for the Spanish, Latina/o and Latin American studies department. I am very proud of my work in the Speaking, Arguing and Writing (SAW) Center, where I help students think through their writing or speaking assignments. I am also a proud member of La Unidad and have taken part in the Global Partners Program.

Proudest accomplishment at MHC: I am most proud to be a role model to my daughter. More than 15 years ago, I lost my parents in an unexpected way. Eight years ago, I gave birth to a beautiful daughter with autism and began walking the hard road of a single mother. Five years ago, my daughter and I lived in a shelter for homeless families, where I was encouraged to pursue higher education. Today I embody an attitude of “never fear change.” I am proud to give my daughter the tools she needs to carve her own path in life, as I have done. I've received the love and support of my professors, advisors and the amazing community of Frances Perkins scholars. I want to make everyone proud of how far I’ve come and where I’ll go from here.

Favorite course you thought you might not like: In the Spanish department, a course called Bad Lovers, taught by Albert Lloret from UMass Amherst. I thought I would despise medieval Spanish literature. Although it was challenging, the course rekindled my love for my native language and led me to add Spanish as a second major. In the English department, Victorian Literature and Visual Culture, taught by Amy Martin. I absolutely adore Professor Martin, but I wasn’t sure about Victorian literature. I equated the period with Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë — not my cup of tea. Instead, we focused on Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde and did a very thorough read of “Alice in Wonderland.” I loved it.

Best takeaway from internship or research experiences: My summer research project in translation gave me the base from which to build a new and exciting senior project: a new translation of Pablo Neruda’s “Twenty Love Poems.” I am exploring the language of love and how it functions in translation. I also delve into the connection between love, culture and self. My goal is to finish the school year with a full translation that recognizes issues that previous translations have missed and adds to the conversation on the literary legacy of Neruda.

Future plans: My goal is to go abroad for my master’s degree and return to the United States for a doctorate. I plan to work as a freelance translator while I continue my education and then seek a government position related to my field.