At the age of 15, Melania Nixon, an 11th grade student at Lyford Cay International School (LCIS), already has some college experience under her belt.
This summer she successfully completed the University of Miami’s Pre-College Summer Scholars Program in business, ethics and leadership, walked away with the top “2023 Summer Scholars Ethics debate Outstanding Debater Award”, and was recognized as an outstanding student among the 2023 summer scholars.
Melania, who applied for three-week course that allows students to try out potential majors and gain valuable college experience, said the opportunity was like none other.
“It was truly an exciting experience to stay on campus for three weeks,” she said. “From the first day, move-in day, where I got to set up my space in the dorm room and meet my roommate, and suite mates.
“Living on campus was a surreal experience, and incomparable to anything I have ever experienced. I had a roommate along with two suite mates. Also, I found it nice to be surrounded by students who were interested in the same activities as me and to have a residential assistant who could answer any questions or be a confidant in my aspirations for the future.
“Academically, the program was very rigorous, as it was university-level. I found that the experience cemented my choice to follow this career path. I realized how fascinating Business and Ethics were through the many lectures, field trips, and experiences that the program offered me. Although it was challenging to adapt to at first, I also got a taste of what university-level tasks and assignments would be like, while being taught by the university professors.”
While the program was short, Melania said she learned an important lesson: balancing work and play.
She said on weekends, participants were given the opportunity to take advantage of all that Miami has to offer, including outings to Dolphin Mall, Falls Mall, a Miami Marlins game (front row seats), a pool party at UM pool with an ice cream cart (UM student business), and Miami Beach, among other activities.
“These activities were able to help me learn how to balance my social and academic life, along,” she said.
While those activities certainly made the experience more enriching, it was her experience leading the debate team that was among the most fulfilling, Melania said.
“I was judged by faculty including the dean of the University of Miami during the program and represented my team in a debate about two ethics case studies,” she explained.
“We spent a week making points for the debate and I spoke for the team by bringing a similar, real-life example that supported our claim. Once we concluded the debate the judges had a chance to pick a top student from each team and name them the debate champions. Tapping into my previous debating skills I gained from MUN and Worlds Scholars club, I was nominated for the award and won the prize.”
Melania said establishing relationships with people from all over the world made the experience that much better.
“I was able to understand their different viewpoints and perspectives, and I believe that from the program, I became more open-minded and understanding of other people’s opinions, similar to my experience at an international school like LCIS,” she continued.
“Moreover, I got a real-life experience of what is required and expected of me in the university. I also got to interact and listen to lectures from professors and persons involved in business. Adding to this point, one of the highlights I had from the program that I believe will stick with me for the rest of my life is the connections I have already established with professionals in the real world that can assist me in moving forward throughout my career. I believe this was key to my success at the university.”
Melania said the program also helped her foster some independence.
“Before the trip, I was an exchange student in Canada for the same duration, three weeks, and although I was in an unfamiliar environment, I still had host parents and an exchange partner,” she said.
“This program was another huge leap for me because, like my mom said to me, ‘Melania it’s on you from here’. My parents weren’t there to wake me up or push me to do homework, therefore, I had to use the approaches to learning skills embedded in me at LCIS wisely. To name a few, self-management and communication to wake up on time, attend classes and adapt to life in a whole new way.”
During her time at UM, Melania enrolled in two three-credit classes, for which she received six university credits.
As for her future, Melania, whose favorite subjects include mathematics, business and psychology, said she is considering studying finance, with a minor in accounting or business administration.