Finding footholds

There’s two things you should know about Melissa Lamproe. She’s determined, and she loves spreadsheets.

The PSU accounting student recently transferred from Portland Community College, where she graduated with honors and served as a student leader. Now a junior in the School of Business, she’s on track to graduate and looks forward to starting a career in the social good sector.

A few years ago, Melissa’s life looked very different than the way it does today.  

Difficult life circumstances caused Melissa to experience food and housing insecurity for many years. After dropping out of middle school and becoming homeless as a young person, she didn't think that college would be an option for her.

“People have misconceptions about homelessness and food insecurity. I think a lot of people assume that if you’re homeless, you’re on drugs or you’ve got mental health issues... I was neither of these," she said.

Melissa knew she needed to make a change, and that education would be her path forward. She bought a study book at a Goodwill and earned her GED in just a matter of weeks, and enrolled in community college.

“I kept telling myself I have to do this. I wanted so much more for my life and I wanted to not feel worried for my family’s future all the time.”  

Scholarships and support resources changed Melissa's life. A combination of financial assistance, career-focused leadership opportunities and financial assistance allowed her to earn her associate’s degree and transfer to Portland State University as an honors student. 

At PSU she continues to thrive. This year, she is working as a development intern at Our House of Portland, a local nonprofit that inspires people with HIV to live well. After graduating, she hopes to continue her career in service of others.

“If you can take a person like me – a person with a bunch of gaps in their education – and give them a future with something as simple as a scholarship, then you truly can change anyone’s life.”