Marissa Melchi's ability to communicate visually, through design and iconography, serves her well as the editor-in-chief of Carroll High School's yearbook staff.
Those skills, along with her impressive academic performance and a strong interview with representatives from The News-Sentinel, have earned the 18-year-old the 2014 Sterling Sentinel Journalism Award $3,000 scholarship she plans to use to enhance her skills at Indiana University in the fall.
Melchi, now in her second year as the editor of Carroll's yearbook, displayed eye-catching designs during the interview process. But it was her passion and drive that set her apart, said News-Sentinel Editor Kerry Hubartt.
"Marissa made what I thought was the most impressive and passionate presentation of all the candidates, exuding the enthusiasm she has for what she does," Hubartt said. "She showed us how committed she is to producing the best possible yearbooks at Carroll and how she has already created her path toward the yearbook staff at Indiana University and a possible career in helping schools with yearbooks in the future."
Michael Christman, the president of Fort Wayne Newspapers and publisher of The News-Sentinel, said the Sterling Sentinel Journalism Award remains important as a mechanism to recognize outstanding senior journalists from around the area.
"The journalism industry is going to be around for a long time. I think kids, young people, being involved in the industry is great, because it only adds to the talent and abilities of newsrooms and newspapers," Christman said. "In the future, these young people will be our staff members and employees."
Melchi's mother, Beth, joked prior to the scholarship presentation that her daughter didn't obtain her keen eye for design from her, while Melchi herself said she didn't really pick up on her talent until her sophomore year at Carroll.
"I think when I first realized ... I've always been very leader-driven," she said. "I've always wanted to try new things and learn how to do things well. With this, with yearbook, I realized I should put in a lot of time because it seemed like I was good at it. I was doing well on assignments, I was getting them back with good grades."
Melchi's desire to put together a strong yearbook this year showed itself in an unusual display of dedication: On one of the numerous snow days that closed Carroll this year, Melchi actually worked from the school's parking lot in her vehicle, so she could access the school's servers through its Wi-Fi connection.
Julie Gordy, Carroll's yearbook teacher, has had Melchi in her class for the past three years. Gordy said this past year Melchi has incorporated social media into their yearbook practices.
"She is a tremendous yearbook editor; she goes the extra mile every time to make sure we get the best coverage possible," Gordy said.
Melchi said that leadership, delegation, teamwork and the ability to focus are all traits that have developed by overseeing student staff members, while dedication will continue to be at the forefront of her priorities since she will have to spend part of her summer finalizing the yearbook's production.
"I think I've grown a lot. Being in yearbook is a huge, huge undertaking," Melchi said. "Looking back on the books – I've done two – I'm pleased with the work we were able to do. I don't have any regrets, looking back on my time with this."
Melchi confessed to having a bit of senioritis, however –she has a half-day schedule in her final semester – and while she still has work to do before graduation, she is eager to see what Bloomington will be like.
"I'm looking forward to seeing what other people bring to the table," she said. "It will be nice to have new challenges and be introduced to new concepts."