Linda Relyea

Melena Vanderford is an outstanding graduate of Adams State

ALAMOSA, CO. (June 15, 2023) – Melena Vanderford, Salida, Colo., graduated Summa Cum Laude from Adams State University, during the Spring 2023 Commencement Ceremony on May 13, 2023. Vanderford earned a Bachelor of Arts in clinical psychology.

Vanderford is the first in her family to earn a college degree. “The faculty of the psychology department have been an outstanding resource for me to progress my academic goals and an overwhelming source of support in general. Not only that, but Adams State as a whole is such a welcoming place and puts in a lot of effort to make sure that there is diversity, equity, and inclusion for everyone. Lastly, I have been able to take part in so many opportunities that I would have never expected from such a small school, such as the Movement for the Mind research project, my own independent research, and attending psychology conferences. I am so grateful for that.”

Vanderford plans to work with Upward Bound as a youth mentor for part of the summer. Then, she hopes to be accepted into the Peace Corps and go to Thailand and work in a project called “Youth in Development.” From there, Vanderford will begin a doctorate program at the University of Wyoming.

“My professors were such a pivotal part of my success. They guided me through the process of becoming involved with research and I can tell you now, there was a big learning curve, so I want to thank them profusely for their ongoing patience with me. They have also been a big part of my journey in the way of motivating me to push myself, try new things, and believe in my ability to accomplish big goals.”

Vanderford had several jobs on campus: psychology teaching assistant, work-study, and research assistant for Movement for the Mind. She also worked at the Rex Activity Center gym. She was a mentor for youth with Griptape. Vanderford worked with an organization called GIV; helped make decisions regarding funding to underserved populations with the CSF Foundation; and helps run Visual Journaling, online based mental health program, for her family business, Crestone Freedom Project.

It took Vanderford only three years to graduate. She was the previous treasurer and vice president of Psi Chi and is the current president. “Adams takes such extensive precautions to take care of all of their students financially. I never had to use my own money to pay for school.”

“I have grown so much since my freshman year. I have discovered more parts of myself that I didn’t know existed: my passion for MMA, working out, ice climbing, kayaking, etc. I also realized how much I did not know about certain things, like diversity, equity, and inclusion. Overall, I have been able to expand my interests, ideas, and world-view.”


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Melena Vanderford graduated with honors from Adams State University.