UCSB student Mel Fabi got to party like a rock star on MTV’s tab and loved every minute of it.
Fabi, a senior Chicano studies and film studies major, won the “Fight for Your Rights” scholarship contest co-sponsored by MTV and Shine, worth a $50,000 scholarship and a three-day stay in New York City. Shine is an organization dedicated to helping youths become leaders in their communities.
In addition, the award was presented by two of Fabi’s idols – Sean “P. Diddy” Combs and Muhammad Ali.
“I was so nervous,” Fabi said. “My heart was beating so fast. My hands were sweaty. But once I was onstage, I wasn’t nervous at all. They made me feel so comfortable.”
Fabi said the whole experience was “the time of my life.”
“At that moment [onstage], I just totally felt like life was experiencing me,” he said.
After he was presented with the award, Fabi was allowed to give a speech in front of the star-studded crowd.
“I got to say what I wanted to say,” Fabi said. “It all came from my heart.”
Loni Ali, Muhammad Ali’s wife, introduced Fabi in front of a crowd that included Tommy Hilfiger, Kenneth Cole and Method Man.
“When I walked into the Roxy, I was like, ‘Oh my God – there’s Rupert Everett, talking to Carson Daly,'” he said.
Approximately 30,000 people downloaded the application for this scholarship, and four regional winners and one national winner were chosen, with the highest award going to Fabi. Applicants had to write three essays each and get several letters of recommendation.
On Nov. 8, Fabi received a call saying that he had won. A week later, he was in New York for the award presentation on Nov. 15.
Fabi is currently interning for CBS News as part of the UCDC Program and will finish school in New York taking independent studies classes through the Chicano studies department while working for “The Late Show” with David Letterman.
A former member of Associated Students, Fabi co-founded the Commission on Disability Access (CODA) and was the Goodspeed Intern at UCSB, where he worked closely with Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Michael Young.
Young, who wrote one of Fabi’s letters of recommendation for this scholarship, said Fabi was a “joy to work with.”
“Mel was an extraordinarily communicative and effective Goodspeed Intern,” Young said. “He’s extremely hard-working, relentless as he pursues a project and has a great set of values.”
A.S. Executive Vice-President for External Affairs Eneri Rodriguez said Fabi was a mentor to her.
“Honestly, I don’t think I would be here today in this position if I weren’t for Mel,” she said.
Rodriguez said Fabi was there for her throughout her freshman year when she first got involved with A.S.
“Mel has impacted my life in a way that no other student has,” Rodriguez said.
Although he may not have expected Fabi to win this particular scholarship, Young said he is not at all surprised at Fabi’s achievements.
“If you know Mel, you are not at all surprised that he would achieve big things,” Young said. “Clearly, if anyone deserves a national award, it’s Mel.”