As the saying goes, don’t judge a person until you’ve walked in their shoes. One Wright State University alumna not only walked in many pairs of shoes, she also stepped out in kindness to help many people.
Melissa Ortiz-Bebbington graduated from Wright State in 2013 with a master’s degree in leadership studies. She was dedicated to improving, educating and helping the Latino community at Wright State.
Those who knew her also say she had a love for all shoes, for there was no pair of shoes she would turn away. She had her own shoe room with over 400 pairs of shoes.
In 2014, Ortiz-Bebbington died from colon cancer.
“She was one of a kind, a big heart with a mean streak,” said Tony Ortiz, her father and associate vice president of Latino affairs at Wright State. “She was very intelligent and really cared for the less privileged. She also cared a lot for kids with special needs.”
The Amigos Latinos Student Association has organized a shoe drive, called “Melissa’s Steps,” in Ortiz-Bebbington’s honor. The drive is collecting new and gently used shoes for men, women and children at El Puente Learning Center in Dayton and the East Dayton Community Center.
Shoes can be dropped off at the Office of Latino Affairs in 108A Student Union or at the Department of Leadership Studies in 490 Allyn Hall.
The drive runs through April 20. For more information, contact 937-775-3813.
“Melissa was fierce and the hardest working student. She was compassionate and stood up for the underdog,” said Julia Acosta, coordinator of Undergraduate and Graduate Leadership Programs. “She is missed terribly. She touched so many lives with her spirit and love for life. It’s hard to believe she is not here.”
Ortiz and the Amigos Latinos Association have partnered with Wright State’s We Serve U, the Athletic Training Program and the Department of Leadership Studies to organize the shoe drive. This will be the first of many annual Melissa’s Steps shoe collections.
“She had so much potential and had the drive to get it done,” Ortiz said of his daughter. “I really believe she was going to be a senator some day and stand up for the less fortunate. This project keeps her spirit alive so others can continue the work she started.”