Get to Know Gainesville: Jessica Melendez

I was reminded of how small the world can be as I embarked on this week’s interview. I walked up to Melendez thinking she was a stranger and discovered that we were actually in a class together a couple semesters ago.

After realizing our connection, Melendez and I continued to discuss her very unique life. Melendez, 23, is not only a senior women’s studies major at the University of Florida, but she is also a full-time mother and wife. She and her husband are the proud parents of two little girls, and they are awaiting the first meeting of their third little mystery in June — How exciting!

Melendez said that while she is currently a women’s studies major because of her interests in politics and social inequality, she actually hopes to eventually become a medical physician. At the moment, she is enjoying taking the long road.

I happened upon Melendez while she was sitting in the Plaza of the Americas discussing an organization called Slow Food, which encourages people to examine where their food comes from and what they put into their bodies — a perfect organization for Melendez to incorporate her interests in politics and health.

In a similar vein, Melendez explained that going on a medical-mission trip to Guatemala was one of her favorite experiences during her time at UF. Outside of incorporating Melendez’s passion for the medical field, the trip was also her first trip outside of the U.S., and she said she loved being in Central America.

Although Melendez didn’t travel internationally until her college years, she comes from a regionally diverse background; Her father emigrated from El Salvador while her mother emigrated from Haiti. Her parents met in New York where they had Melendez, and moved to Florida shortly thereafter. Melendez said she thinks Florida is a great place to live because of the awesome theme parks.

I had a great time listening to Melendez, who was super cute with her baby bump. She seemed to be a sweet person with a big heart, and her kids sure are lucky to have such a caring mom.

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