It’s the thoughtfulness that comes with Melanie Ulrich’s drive that impresses her teachers.
The Paducah Tilghman High School senior has all the academic and service achievements an excelling student wants.
She maintains a 3.9 grade-point average in the school’s toughest classes. The 16-year-old is Beta Club president this year, serves on the student council and has served two years in the National Honor Society.
But it’s her intentional and committed approach that stands out.
“Besides her quiet, reserved intelligence, the qualities that impress me most about Melanie are her diligence and her commitment to get the job done,” said Connie Byrd, math teacher. “Melanie is a student who fully participates in organizations to which she belongs.”
Ulrich’s commitment leads her to thoughtful experiences, including being co-president of the school’s poetry club and a member of the recycling and Young Republicans clubs.
And it leads her to Teen of the Week honors.
Ulrich, daughter of Connie and Burton Ulrich, is the Murray State University Teen of the Week. Each Monday, the Sun features a different MSU Teen of the Week selected from nominees submitted by high school guidance counselors throughout western Kentucky and southern Illinois. In May, a Teen of the Year will be chosen from the weekly winners, earning a $5,000 scholarship to Murray State. Teen of the Week is part of the Sun’s Newspapers in Education program.
Ulrich’s excitement about a lunch buddy program at Morgan Elementary School peeked through on the day she interviewed for this article.
“I’m actually going today to see my lunch buddy,” Ulrich said excitedly about when she visits the same elementary schooler every two weeks.
“It’s a nice break from all this very strict atmosphere of high school and all this drama and everything. It’s fun to just be around kids who don’t really care about anything.”
A dual-credit program with Murray State University involved Ulrich in the lunch buddy service, and allowed her to observe teachers in the classroom.
Ulrich said everything from literature to biology interests her, a diversity in interests also shown in her service time. She has or has had roles in the school’s equestrian club, concert choir, volleyball team and pep club.
Two universities accepted Ulrich and offered prestigious scholarships. Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu, Hawaii, honored her with the Ka ‘Ima ‘Ike (Seeker of Knowledge) Scholarship, which would give her $5,500 for her freshman year. Tulane University in New Orleans awarded her a $20,000 Founders Scholarship.
Ulrich said she’s undecided about what she will study after high school and where.
“I’ll probably stay in Kentucky,” Ulrich said. “Right now my main choice is probably the University of Louisville.”
Wherever she goes, her high school principal knows what kind of person that university will have.
“Melanie is a well-mannered young woman,” said Art Davis, Paducah Tilghman principal. “She is a young lady of character, displaying the highest morals on a daily basis.”
Contact Adam Shull, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8653.