Headshot of Melanie Cortes

Melanie Cortes

Melanie Cortes is a first-generation student at San Francisco State University. She is currently working on her bachelor's degree in Fine Arts and is planning to become a teacher, while eagerly exploring her interests in videography.  Although things have been rough, especially as a first-generation student, she has always overcome challenges facing her.


At a young age, Melanie displayed her passion for helping others by reaching out to other students who struggled in school. She even helped organize the first multicultural section in her high school newspaper, which supported new-coming students to feel comfortable enough to get involved. From her personal experience, Melanie could see that extracurricular activities aren't always accessible for English Language Learner students. In addition, Melanie helped create a micro-documentary for incoming migrant Vietnamese students, advocating for support for those students. She wants to utilize these experiences in her future career as an educator for BIPOC students.


Art has always been a major part of Melanie’s life because of its important role in advocacy. She participated in various art events where her art was on display, such as: ArtSpan San Francisco Youth Open Studios, the San Francisco Unified School District Asian Art Museum Arts Festival, and many more. She believes that art is a crucial tool for social justice, it helps create a better understanding of an issue quickly while having people remember that piece, photo, or even video.


Melanie is placed at The Women’s Building for the DreamSF Fellowship. She will be assisting the resource clinic by providing direct services to help the community. Melanie will also support their advocacy program, by using her skills in art and video production to create outreach collateral.


Melanie has been taught to always have self-empowerment. She wants to enact social change for herself as well as others.  Melanie wants to empower students of color and will begin doing so by informing herself of the resources that are available to them while her fellowship takes place.


In her free time, Melanie likes to create art such as painting, sculpting, or even videography. You can find her art on Instagram @m3ls.art, where she posts her favorite pieces and sketches. She also enjoys spending time with her family, whether it's watching movies or exploring new “changarros de comida”(Local small food stands). Melanie loves to collect trinkets. On weekends you will most likely see her at flea markets around the Bay Area.