The road to graduation was not easy, but after overcoming bullying, attempted suicide, dialectical therapy, eating disorder treatment and more, Melissa Baca is proud to say that she has reached the finish line and will graduate this month with her Bachelor of Arts in English.

Before beginning her junior year in high school, Baca was reported as having suicidal ideations, causing her to be placed in a behavioral hospital where she began therapy and treatment.

In September of the following year, Baca attempted suicide. As a result, she was pulled out of school.

“It wasn’t a safe environment for me,” she said.

Transferring to a small charter school where most of the classes were online and although it was safer, Baca found the work was not stimulating.

The school emphasized dual credits, and since she was already spending a lot of her time away from school going to therapy, she decided in 2014 to enroll in a few college courses through CNM during the spring semester.

“When I was there, I was taking a lot of English classes, because I was very interested in writing,” Baca said. “I just fell in love with the way that they taught in colleges.”

“I just kept doing that until my senior year, and I was in therapy for that entire time as well,” she said. However, she was transferred back into treatment after developing an eating disorder.

After graduation, Baca hopes to eventually go on to receive her master’s degree in fine arts.

“I’m proud, because — especially in high school — I had this idea that I wouldn’t live past 15,” she said. “Then I lived past 15 and I thought, well I’m not going to make it past 16.”

After spending months feeling like there were things she would never accomplish, Baca realized she was reaching her goals.

Focusing on milestones was very important throughout her journey, she said.

“I know people have very long-term goals that they work toward, but I had to work toward short term goals in order to keep my sanity.”

Kelly Urvanejo is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at or on Twitter @Kelly_Urvanejo.