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Melina Piatti-Chayan shines in classroom and on Forensics Team at Union Catholic

In our latest installment of Feature Friday, we shine the spotlight on Union Catholic senior Melina Piatti-Chayan.

Piatti-Chayan, who lives in Newark, is a member of the National Honor Society, an Honor Roll student, and is very active in school and in the UC Community.

Here is our Q and A with Melina -

Congrats on being inducted into the National Honor Society? How exciting was that and what does it mean to you?  “Being inducted was definitely a big honor for me! My academics and grades have always been extremely important to me. I always proud myself in my grades because it reflects the amount of work I put in. Being inducted for the second time just gave me the reassurance that my work and time got me to where I wanted to be.’’

Can you list all the activities and clubs that you are involved in at UC? Forensics team, Operation Smile, Peer Ministry, Students for Human Dignity, and Environmental Club.

Awards/honors you have received at UC? “I won a bronze medal my sophomore year for taking the National Spanish Exam, and a silver medal the following year for taking the same exam. I’ve also consistently been on the First Honor Roll since my freshman year. I won the medallion for maintaining a 4.0 GPA throughout my time in UC, and I was inducted to the World Language Honor Society. Having these accolades and accomplishments motivates me to keep working hard and prioritizing my success.’’ 

How have you been able to balance everything you do outside the classroom along with all your schoolwork?  “Time management is key to balancing everything you do. Participating in the forensics team, my clubs, school work, and having a job can be extremely difficult. There have been times where I’ve had a meet the same day I’d have to work a 5 or 6 hour shift at my job. However, it’s important to remember why you are a part of what you are doing, and to remember the end goal. That, along with staying organized and managed, will be enough to help you balance everything.

What do you love the most about being a member of the Forensics Team? “Being part of the Forensics team has helped me develop into the person I am today. I not only learn and research political topics that help me be aware of important issues in today’s society, but it has helped me further develop my presenting and public-speaking abilities, which will help me not only in the career I hope to have, but throughout different situations in life. I have also been able to meet my closest friends on the team. With that being said, the educational yet fun opportunities in forensics has to be my favorite part.’’

How exciting was it to break to quarterfinals in Public Forum at the Forensics Tournament last weekend? What was your topic? “Breaking in this competition was extremely exciting for a number of reasons! This was my first competition for this year with a fairly difficult and comprehensive topic, so being able to reach quarterfinals and get points for nationals early in the year was very refreshing and reassuring. The topic revolved around whether or not the United States should implement a No First Use Policy, which deals with the way we use our nuclear arsenal.’’  

How important do you feel it is to be involved in lots of  activities? “Being part of a number of activities in school is extremely important because it helps determine who you are, and who you want to be. By being involved in different clubs and activities, you not only find what you like and don’t like, but it helps you develop time management skills and responsibilities. It’s great because you not only learn and develop passions, but you also meet people who like the same things as you. Through my own participation in different activities, I’ve been able to meet my friends and share different things in common with them.’’


What do you love the most about being a student at Union Catholic? “The opportunities presented at UC have to be my favorite aspect. Whether you need help in a certain subject, or want to create a club that suits your interests, UC gives you the opportunity to not only learn, but explore your interests and find a passion. There’s a club, sport, and class for absolutely everyone. I not only take classes that I love, but I participate in clubs and activities that I am also passionate for.’’

What was it about UC that made you want to be a student here?  “After attending a Freshman for a Day in eighth grade, I instantly knew I wanted to be a true freshman at UC. Everywhere I looked, someone was there to ask me if I needed help, or just to give me a reassuring smile. The community at UC instantly made me feel at home, practically making where to go to high school a no-brainer.’’ 

What kind of advice would you give to younger students who are considering attending UC? “As I mentioned earlier, something that drove me to Union Catholic was the community. The second you step in the building, whether it’s a teacher or friend, someone is there with a smile. There’s never a second where you feel misplaced or uneasy because of the fact that everywhere you turn, you know someone.’’

What specifically can you point to as the things that you’ve benefited from the most from your experience as a student at UC?  “The opportunities that UC has provided is something that I will always be thankful for. The rigorous courses and academics offered at UC, along with the clubs and other activities, has taught me a handful of skills that I know I will rely on in the future. Because of this, I’ve been able to not only have fun, but to learn and grow academically.’’

What are you looking forward to the most during this school year? “I’m looking forward to the classes I’m taking this year. I had a number of slots to fill with electives, so I was able to pick classes on subjects that I love to learn about, such as international affairs and Spanish.’’

Favorite UC memories? “My very first pep rally as a freshman.’’

Favorite UC Core Value: “Compassion because of its importance in today’s world.’’

Favorite UC event: Mr. UC

Favorite class (and the teacher): Mrs. Portillo’s AP Spanish class

Favorite UC moment? Freshmen Field day!

Life motto: “Every day is a second chance.”

One word to describe your UC experience: “Exciting’’

Share one tip for members of Class of 24: “Don’t be scared to get involved in new things.’’

What do you like to do in your spare time? “Whenever I have any free time, I like to take a step back from my work. I love sitting down and watching a movie or TV show, or exercising.’’

How about the future, Melina? What are your plans for college? What would you like to study and what would you like to pursue? “As of right now, I want to major in political science and take a minor in Spanish Studies, along with taking the pre-law track. I eventually want to go to law school and embark on a litigation career!’’
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