Voices of Emerging Leaders: Melissa Torres-Duran, ELI ’19-‘21

Melissa Torres-Duran, ELI 2021 Intern at Salt & Straw
Melissa Torres-Duran

In November 2021, we interviewed Melissa Torres-Duran (she/her), a current advertising student at University of Oregon, and returning 3-time Emerging Leader, most recently as an ELI 2021 marketing intern at Salt & Straw.

EL: We’ve been excited to have you as an Emerging Leader 3 for summer running. What has kept you coming back? How have you and ELI grown over the years?

Melissa: I pursued my first internship through ELI in 2019, and I decided to reapply because of the immense support I received throughout the summer. I found my community through ELI. We’re a cohort of 100+ students of color learning how to navigate our first internship, and ELI gives us that extra push. ELI has given me the confidence to go after my dream internships!

EL: As an Emerging Leader, what are you passionate about?

Melissa: I am passionate about creating digital strategies to help bridge gaps between underserved communities through the power of sport. My personal experiences have shaped my desire to support youth. Having access to mental health resources helped me learn the proper tools when it came to health, nutrition, and fitness, but unfortunately, ethnic communities are disproportionately affected. As a Latina, I think about what I can do to obliterate the cultural barriers for the next generation of young athletes.

“As a Latina, I think about what I can do to obliterate the cultural barriers for the next generation of young athletes.”

EL: What were some key values that were important to you during your internship?

Melissa: My core values include community and compassion. ELI led me to a wonderful team this summer. I had the amazing opportunity to intern on the marketing team at Salt & Straw. My team allowed my curiosity to flow and create content for a brand that embodies community. I used these 12 weeks to ask questions, work across different departments, and make one too many TikToks.

EL: As we look towards next summer’s program, what message would you share with potential Emerging Leaders?

Melissa: I would encourage all of my first-generation peers to apply to ELI because it is so much more than an internship program; ELI is a support system. Many of our parents have no idea how hard it was to craft that winning resume or cover letter and stand out from a talent pool. We’re still figuring it out every day, but ELI is helping us to break into the industry.

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