The Trailblazer

Melissa Lucio has “it.” Although sometimes difficult to explain and understand, we all know the “it factor” when we see it.

Melissa Lucio has “it.”

Although sometimes difficult to explain and understand, we all know the “it factor” when we see it.

A blend of confidence with humility, charisma, an interest in others all combined with a mission bigger than herself, the McAllen Border Patrol Station Agent in Charge defines the very nature of having “it.”

Melissa Lucio on women continuing to blaze a trail for other women

The footprints are there. Don’t brush them away. Make sure they are still there. And clear and leave breadcrumbs so they can follow you.”

Melissa Lucio on her five sons

They are by far my legacy. No matter what I have done, our boys are our legacy. They are a great bunch and they are doing great things with their lives.”

  1. Melissa Lucio

There are qualities about her that are undeniable – from her beaming smile the minute you meet, to her outgoing, honest nature with which she speaks about her job, life and the people she leads every day.

Melissa may have one of the toughest jobs in America. In McAllen, she leads a total of 650 Border Patrol Agents. It is the third largest station in the U.S. and the busiest. She came back home to the RGV in March of 2016, promoted to lead the same station she served at more than 10 years ago.

A Batgirl poster and other memorabilia in her office are telling to how Melissa sees herself and her job.

“She is educated and feminine,” Melissa says about Batgirl. “In her day job, she is a librarian. Then she goes home and goes to her feminine vanity and behind it is a kick ass motorcycle and a kick ass outfit. She says, after all, ‘I am just doing my part as a citizen.’”

Melissa also has always wanted to make a difference in the community. Her main battle has been to do all she can to keep drugs off the streets, drugs from her kids and from their friends.

She likens Batgirl’s tools to her own years of hard work, experience and training in Border Patrol and law enforcement oper-ations.

“All of that makes me not so much a heroin, but a crime fighter,” Melissa says of her career with the Border Patrol. “I like to use her as an analogy.”

The knowledge and experience are the factors that helped her land the top job at and now how she facilitates change to help her people and the station become better every day.

She beat out seven others for the position. Melissa called it a surreal experience to return to the Valley and take the top job at the busiest station.

“I told them (the interviewers) I believe everything I have done has led me to this position and that it is mine,” she says confidently about her years with the Border Patrol. “This is where I am supposed to be. This was where I was supposed to go.”

Life leading

Now, 25 years into her career, her position is much more of mentor, teacher and most importantly a leader.

She takes each of those jobs very seriously with the intention of guiding the next generation of Border Patrol leaders.

Since arriving in McAllen, she’s been at the forefront of leading her team to make improvements and changes in field opera-tions.

On her whiteboard in her office, there are several quotes. They are telling to who she is and what she expects from her field agents and herself.

“If better is possible, then good is not enough,” states one written in purple ink.

“Status quo is not acceptable,” states the other in red and at the top of the board.

Melissa admitted, it took some time to implement change in McAllen, but her leadership style focuses on her people coming up with the ideas and moving forward with them under her guidance – also with the knowledge she won’t always be around.

“I am different in how I approach things,” she says about her style. “I ask a lot of questions and am very analytical. I want to stimulate their thinking so they can figure things out on their own. I support and provide an environment that allows and encourages them to be better and function without me.”

Her journey

Born and raised in Harlingen, where she and her husband reside again, Melissa’s career life started slowly. She married right out of high school had five boys by the time she was 25.

Once her youngest was a year old, she decided it was time to make a difference in the world. It was 1992.

An very good athlete in her high school days, Melissa had put on about 120 pounds since that time. It was her highest weight in her life.

But she wanted to be part of the Border Patrol more than anything.

“I had to be all in,” she says. And she was.

Even her husband, who has supported her throughout her journey and was in the BP himself at that time, wasn’t sure she would make it through the academy, which is physically demanding. She lost weight and cruised through the academy.

Melissa’s ability to analyze problems, solve them, work with people, push others to their best and lead them has made all the difference.

Her move up the ladder went from agent, to supervisor to field operations supervisor, assistant chief headquarters, assistant chief of patrol sector and now patrol agent in charge.

Her future

At one point in her life, Melissa had her eyes set on being the top chief at the Border Patrol. While she seems to be clearly on that path, some things have changed.

About a year ago, she and her husband welcomed their first grandchild. Her grandson lives here in the Valley.

“He changed our life,” Melissa says with a gleam in her eye.

She and her husband also are taking care of other family here in the RGV. That may be why she is more inclined to stay I the area.

Right now, she really has her eyes set on her current boss’ job. He oversees 12 agents in charge at the Border Patrol sta-tions. That position would be in Edinburg.

However, she is willing to go elsewhere if she is needed.

“I am having a lot of fun, so I wouldn’t mind staying here,” she says with a grin. “But that’s subject to change.”

A trailblazer?

Melissa says she doesn’t think of herself as a trailblazer.

But, the numbers may prove otherwise.

Only about six percent of 20,000 Border Patrol agents are women. Melissa is the fifth-highest ranked female in the Border Patrol and is the first female patrol agent in charge here in the Rio Grande Valley

“People say, I want to be where you are at, how do I get there,” she says.

She tells them what she did, but wants them to figure out their own path.

“This is what I did, but their story may be totally different,” Melissa says she tells them. “What are the things you are doing now? Are you picking the right assignments and training. Are you waking up and striving to be successful and go 100 percent all the time?”

She says whether she is a trailblazer must be answered by others.

“I don’t think I am the one who can say that, whether I am or not,” she says. “I just hope I am doing all the right things.”

Find your own road

It seems as though McAllen Border Patrol Station Agent in Charge Melissa Lucio has made all the right decisions throughout her life and especially her career.

After nearly 25 years in the Border Patrol, she is the fifth-highest ranked female and is the first female patrol agent in charge here in the Rio Grande Valley.

But, she also knows every woman has to find their own path to success. However, she has some tips for girls and women trying to find their place in this world.

The first is to find your passion and do it to the best of your ability, she says.

“Always dream,” Melissa says. “Not just thinking about it, but setting it as a goal and taking actions toward that end. Don’t give up on those dreams.”

It won’t be easy, she warns.

“It is hard work trying to juggle all those roles, especially wife, mother and whatever your passion is,” she says sitting comfortably in her Border Patrol Station office just steps from her desk. “It is possible, but it is a lot of hard work. Persevere, it is work. When things don’t go your way, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back on the horse.”

Melissa is quick to point out, the road for her, may not be the same one another person wants to take or should take.

“You may not go from point A to B,” she says confidently remembering her road to success. “You may have to take a scenic route, but just don’t give up.”

Did You Know?

Melissa Lucio has been stationed within the Border Patrol all over the country.

Here are the places she’s been.

• El Paso

• Kingsville

• Brownsville

• McAllen – twice

• San Diego

• Washington D.C.

Tips for young girls to achieve their dreams

Melissa Lucio admits when she was young herself, her parents told her she could be whatever she wanted to be. That included president, a doctor, lawyer, teacher and more. But, they didn’t mention police officer, firefighter, astronaut and others.

Now, women really can be anything they want to be. And there are keys to achieving.

“There are a lot of young girls out there and their life depends on making good choices, staying out of trouble, working hard and thinking about where you want to go,” she says. “Don’t be afraid, just do it.”