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Meghan Melberg: A True Renaissance Woman

RMA Valedictorian Meghan Melburg Scholar, musician, poet, artist, athlete, leader—Randolph-Macon Academy’s Class of 2016 valedictorian Meghan Melberg’s talents seem almost limitless.

Meghan arrived at Randolph-Macon Academy (R-MA) in sixth grade, after the family moved to nearby Linden, Virginia from Fairfax. Her mother’s job had caused them to move around quite a bit during Meghan’s elementary years, and the idea of having Meghan at a day school that also offered a boarding program was reassuring, because Meghan would be able to continue to go to school there even if her mother was transferred again.

In the end, Front Royal became a permanent home throughout Meghan’s school years, and she chose to remain at R-MA. “The people more than anything kept me here,” she said.

The teachers were part of that. “Mr. [Eric] Barr explains math in a way I understand,” she said. “I don’t know if the teachers in college are going to be able to do that.”

Another reason she appreciates her time at R-MA is because of unique friendships she developed with the international students. The opportunity to befriend them, to learn about their culture, and to learn to work with them was something she viewed as invaluable. “I wouldn’t have had that opportunity at another school,” she said. Those friendships will allow her to spend a month in China after graduating from high school.

Many students that start at R-MA in the middle school are nervous about the Air Force Junior ROTC program, which begins in the ninth grade. Meghan was not among the fearful, but the program was not something she necessarily valued, either. Then MSgt Stephen Pederson, USAF, Retired, gave her a chance as a leader within the cadet corps. “It helped a lot in getting me to come out of my shell and learn leadership,” she said. That experience paid off, and by her senior year, Meghan was named the Commander for Logistics, one of the top five positions in the JROTC program.

One reason she has been such a good leader is her disposition. “In the seven years that I have known Meghan I have never seen her get riled up. She takes everything in stride, she never seems to be stressed,” said MSgt Doug French, USAF, Retired.

Meghan’s talents span music and sports as well. She plays three instruments and her artistic talent has earned her awards in the Academy’s literary magazine, Letters. She played varsity volleyball throughout high school. And her kind nature led to her to be active with Cadets in Action, a student-run organization that seeks to help those in need worldwide. “I think CIA is the one I care most about, because it’s doing work I think actually makes an impact on people’s lives,” she explained.

In addition to these activities, Meghan was the editor of Letters, and a member of the Alpha Readers book club, the Honor Council, the National Honor Society, the National English Honor Society (of which she was the secretary in her junior year), the National Science Honor Society, the National Social Studies Honor Society, and the National German Honor Society (of which she was the vice president in her junior year).  In spite of all of these extracurricular activities, the area in which Meghan has shined brightest is academics.

“Meghan is a student that every teachers dreams of having in the classroom,” said R-MA Social Studies Department Chairman Brian Barbour. “She is the student who not only participates in class, is fully engaged, but will also do whatever she can to help or assist another student. She sees each class as an opportunity to learn and grow. She is respected by her peers and fellow Cadre members and has earned their respect and friendship by her deeds and actions.”

“Meghan has as much talent, skill, and genius in as many areas and disciplines of the sciences and humanities as any student I've taught,” said English Department Chairman Robert Davies.

During Class Night, Meghan was recognized with both the Math Medal and the Social Studies Medal. These medals are the highest academic awards given within the individual disciplines. During graduation on Saturday, May 28, 2016, she was lauded as the Class of 2016 Valedictorian and had the opportunity to speak to her fellow graduates.  

Meghan will head to Brandeis University in the fall. She said she chose Brandeis because of the community there. “Out of all the colleges I visited, the people were so much nicer,” she said. “They try hard to get everyone involved.” Meghan is considering majoring in biochemistry and then obtaining a master’s degree to move forward into a career in research or medicine.