By CATHERINE POIRIER

As Orator of the Class of 2013, senior Natalie Melo will be leaving the halls of Malden High School for the labs of the University of Pennsylvania. Melo has emerged from MHS as a creative, thoughtful, intelligent, and genuinely caring individual. If you see someone walking across the bridge with long, brown, curly hair, accompanied with a huge smile on her face -- it’s Melo.

Senior Abdelhak Belatreche, agreed with this statement, saying, “The coolest part about [Melo] is that she has a great personality. She is always cheery and positive, and knows how to bring life to a room.”

This is a true testament to Melo’s effect on the lives of her peers, teachers and friends at MHS. She has never failed to be there to share a smile, a laugh, and to give support. Similar sentiments are also echoed by senior Caitlin Cala, who added that Melo “sees the good in everyone, even if they [do not] see it in themselves. She always makes me feel better because her smile and laugh just lighten up any room or anyone’s mood.” Cala and Melo have been close friends since seventh grade, when Melo transferred from Salemwood to Linden School.  Their close bond can be perfectly described by Cala: Melo “means more to [her] than a friend, [she is] the sister [she has] always wanted and [Cala cannot] wait to see what [Melo] does in the future.”

As many seniors can attest to, this daunting idea of the “future” begins next year, as many of us head off to college, the workforce, or the service. Melo’s own experience with deciding where the next chapter of her life would take place is a unique story, beginning with Questbridge, a non-profit organization that provides scholarship opportunities for talented young people, just like Melo.

Melo applied to the scholarship program in September, not knowing where it would take her or that, a few months later, she would  receive a full scholarship to UPenn for Engineering.

Immediately following the news, she celebrated with her family. Melo says that she owes her family, among others, thanks for shaping her into the person she is today. Melo said “words [cannot] explain how much they have helped me become the person I am today. They are so important to me...” She also noted that there are “also people outside of home that [she knows she] can always rely on, and those would have to be [her] friends, [her] Summer Search mentor Christina, and [her] teacher [Bernice] Diaz.”

Melo finished by praising their “love and support, through not just [her] high moments, but [her] lowest moments... [it] meant the world to [her], and [she is] so thankful to have such wonderful people in [her] life.”

However, like most teenagers, she has not lived a life devoid of regret. Melo stated that, she “would also have loved to be a part of more clubs and just meet more people in general. This year alone [she met] so many unique and wonderful people.” She added that she wished “[she had] more time to get to know people like Adeja [Tavares] and Roberto [De Oliveira] from the crew team, and Kamisha [Heriveaux] and Chris from the PACE program, way before my junior and senior year of high school.”

Throughout her four successful years at MHS, Melo has developed her true passions in and out of the classroom. Cancer is something Melo has already begun a personal mission to find a cure for by being extremely involved in the American Cancer Society through outlets such as the Relay for Life and MHS’s own carnival to support cancer research. She said she is “looking forward to exploring [her] academic interests and hopefully graduating as an engineer and [involving herself] in the process of finding cures to all kinds of cancers.”

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