For the next year, OU senior Caitlin Melgar will represent Calle Dos Cinco, part of Oklahoma City’s historic Capitol Hill area, as the 2020-21 Miss Fiestas de las Americas.
The Fiestas de las Americas Scholarship Pageant, which aired virtually on Oct. 3, featured contestants from around the Oklahoma City metro area. OU senior Evelin Alvarado also competed in the pageant.
Contestants were judged based on four categories: interview, cultural showcase, evening wear, and an on-stage question. For her cultural showcase, Melgar tapped into her family’s story for inspiration. Her family is from El Salvador, so Melgar made pupusas, a traditional Salvadoran dish, and talked about how her grandma sold them in order to provide for her family.
“It was such a privilege and an honor for me, and I know it meant a lot to my mom too just seeing that and being able to share that,” Melgar explained.
Although Melgar wanted to attend OU right after high school, it was not a good option for her financially. She decided to first attend Oklahoma City Community College, where she graduated with an associates degree in business. In fall 2019, Melgar transferred to OU, where she is now a senior majoring in marketing with a minor in advertising.
“Ultimately OU has always been the dream, and it was just a different route that I had to take,” Melgar said. “But I was able to meet a lot of great people on the way, so I’m grateful to choose that route.”
Melgar’s platform is called Transferring to Greater Heights, and it is directed toward community college and transfer students with the goal of encouraging them to pursue a higher education. She shared that in the past, she has met students who do not know what they want to do next or may not even realize that transferring to a four-year institution is an option, so based upon her own experiences, she wants to encourage them to continue their education. Eventually, Melgar also hopes to start a scholarship as part of her platform.
“I’ve been paying for my school myself, so I know kind of the hardships and the challenges that you face when you’re working, paying off school, trying to do extracurricular activities, trying to have a social life and get sleep while you’re trying to juggle all of that and also just being a first-generation college student. I went in and I was like man I don’t know what to expect, I don’t know what to do, but I’ll just put one foot in front of the other and hope for the best … I really have a heart for students who are trying to figure things out.”
On campus, Melgar is active with TRIO and the Hispanic American Student Association. Born in Houston, Texas, Melgar graduated from Mustang High School in Mustang, Oklahoma, where she still lives. She volunteers at her church and also likes to find ways to help out her community in Mustang.
To future OU students, Melgar encourages them to put themselves out there and not be afraid to connect with people.
“There are a lot of people at OU who are willing to help you, but sometimes you just have to put yourself out there,” Melgar said. “Also, if you’re thinking about maybe joining an organization or doing something that is maybe a little bit out of your comfort zone, go ahead and do it because you never know where you’ll end up from it.”