From an early age, Melissa Gonzalez was quiet and reserved. As a result, she struggled in school, experienced bouts of depression, and as she got older, an internal identify crisis that had her asking herself: “What is wrong with me?”
When she turned 16, she finally realized, and later revealed, that she was gay—hoping to find acceptance from her family and friends with this realization. Instead, she received instruction from others on how she could “fix” herself, even though she knew she wasn’t “broken.”
As a young adult, Melissa moved from Arizona to Colorado Springs in search of starting a new chapter in her life. She lived with her sister and found employment with a large retail company where she ended up working various jobs for 10 years. Although the job paid reasonable wages, Melissa still felt like she was missing something from her life, and her job wasn’t providing her with true satisfaction.
With the encouragement from her friends, Melissa enrolled in IT courses online and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree. Soon after this, she signed up for Goodwill’s IT Training program, and successfully completed the IT security certification track. It was after this that Melissa was offered an internship in Goodwill’s IT department which led to a permanent position!
Melissa felt like her life was getting back on track, and making a turn for the better, when she experienced another setback in going through a divorce. Goodwill and the IT “family” encouraged and supported Melissa through this tough time in her life.
Melissa has overcome tremendous adversity throughout her life yet continues to challenge herself to achieve and excel. As her IT career continues to soar, Melissa is aspiring to become an administrator and supervisor, and we have no doubt that she is “wired-in” for future success!
Recently, Melissa received the 2021 Helms Legacy Award at Goodwill of Colorado’s Annual Dinner.
For over 100 years in Colorado, Goodwill has been a leader in workforce development, helping people empower themselves with the skills and job support services they need to thrive. In 2021, Goodwill of Colorado served more than 124,000 Coloradans and provided over 18,000 with job training and career services. Our workforce and career development programs help individuals with disabilities, older adults, youth, veterans and military families, and persons with barriers to employment achieve greater personal and economic independence through various career development programs.