While this young woman would rather be in or near water than anywhere else, she is most definitely on fire these days when it comes to her academic performance. So much so that she was recently presented with OLMA’s first-ever “Girl on Fire” award. Now in her junior year, Aliana Melendez was recognized with this award during a school-wide assembly for her nearly complete academic turnaround since freshman year.
“I chose OLMA because it was small and all girls,” said Aliana. “Plus, I wanted to do something different than my friends. While I loved the school, the academics were more challenging than I expected and I struggled for part of freshmen year.” The good news is that Aliana did not give up. Instead, she dug in, focused, and leaned on her teachers, friends, and family for support. “I did better last year,” she said. “Things just started to click. This year, I”m going really well with nearly all As so far this semester.” Aliana credits much of her success to surrounding herself with people who really care and want to see her succeed. “It makes a huge difference when everyone is positive and pulling for you,” she said. “I was surprised by the award, but it felt great.”
In addition to excelling academically, Aliana is fish-like when in the water. “I’ve been swimming since I could walk,” she said. “My grandma had a swim school, so my whole family swam all the time. I absolutely love it and enjoy anything involving water and water sports.”
Last year, that love took Aliana to Cedar Key, FL for a biodiversity focused Mini-Mester. “It was so much fun and it was great to understand and see first-hand the effect that plastics are having on our waterways and wildlife,” she said. “It was a great experience.” She is in for a completely different experience in January when she travels to Spain along with other students from OLMA, St. Augustine Prep and Malvern Prep. Aliana will participate in the Spain Exchange Mini-Mester. She will attend school, travel and live as a guest in the home of a local student. “I have to say that I never thought I’d be brave enough to do this, but I am,” she said. “OLMA is all about challenging us to be our best. That’s what I’m shooting for.”
In the classroom, Aliana is really enjoying Anatomy and Physiology. She also loves Psychology and says that it could end up being something she pursues in college. For now, Aliana is looking forward to the rest of her junior year, especially Ring Mass, her trip to Spain and Prom. The rest will come. Congratulations, Aliana. We are so proud of you.