Melissa Silva was raised Bi-nationally on the border of Douglas, AZ and Agua Prieta, Mexico. She completed her Masters in Leadership Administration from Northern Arizona University and a BS from Northern Arizona University in Hotel and Restaurant. She worked for the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino Resort in multiple operational capacities such as Compensation, Hiring and Orientation, Benefits, and Employee Relations. She managed a medical clinic in which she led inclusion practices for HIV/Aids patients. Her work experience includes other Human Resources related job capacities in which she was a key player for diversity and inclusion initiatives. She has a true passion for helping people and providing excellent customer service. She joined the University of Arizona in April of 2012 and enjoys mentoring and advising students about their degree as well as their career options. Melissa has noteworthy long term relationships with the binational Mexico/US community and has a strong desire to create a culture of education on the border. Co-founder of the Connections Project (Conexiones) that supports family and school relationships, parent engagement workshops, inclusion and educational technology for Naco, Sonora and Naco, Arizona. Host and Co-Producer of the weekly Binational Education Section Show for Manantial Radio to promote a cultural of education in the binational region. She also serves on the executive board for the AZ Community Foundation of Cochise, the Douglas Area Community Fund, Chiricahua Community Health Centers, and the Douglas Education Partnership Council and is the Chair for the Diversity Committee at UA South.
In 2013 she founded the Education Unidos Scholarship Fund at UA South that partners with the Mexican Consulate in Douglas and the University South Foundation to financially lend support to students enrolled in Douglas and in pursuit of a higher education degree. The Education Unidos Scholarship for UA Douglas enrolled students that currently holds 100% retention and graduation of scholarship recipients. Founded and played key role in the development and launch of the Education Unidos Internship Program under the Bilateral Forum of Academic Mobility Initiative between the U.S. and Mexico (FOBESII) that brought Academic Scholars from Mexico to participate in an Action-Research Project for the University of Arizona. Designation from the Secretary of External Relations in Mexico of Education Unidos Internship as a “Best Practice” within the Bilateral Forum of Academic Mobility between the U.S. and Mexico. Selected in the summer of 2018 by the University of Arizona as one of five individuals to participate in the National Inclusive Excellence Academy to help develop an inclusive excellence translation project for UA leadership. She has received numerous recognitions such as 2017 UA Award for Excellence, 2017 Sun Magazine Important Contributor to Education on the Border, 2015 UA South Students Choice Award, 2015 Expect More Arizona Judge’s Spotlight Award, 2015 Mexican Consulate in Douglas International Woman, 2015 UA Outstanding Academic Advisor.
In addition, she is Adjunct Faculty for a Student Success Course at the local community college, where she teaches freshman students topics that include motivation, empowerment, interdependence, overcoming barriers, strategies for bridging the gap between high school and college, cultural diversity and inclusion and many other tools to build the skills for a successful college and professional career.