Melville wins peace essay contest

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BEACON FALLS — Sarah Melville lives by a single mantra: a quotation attributed to the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes reading, “Give me but one firm spot on which to stand, and I will move the earth.”

This is fitting for Melville, who has set out on a personal mission to constantly try to make a difference and change the world for the better.

The most recent exploit in this mission was the authorship of an essay  titled “Pictures of Stolen Children,” which examines when nonviolent civic actions are most likely to achieve justice, end conflict or lead to positive political and social change.

The essay was submitted to the United States Institute of Peace, who, according to their mission, is an independent, nonpartisan nonprofit established and funded by Congress with the goal of raising the nation’s ability to respond to international conflicts without violence.

Melville poses with U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) in the congresswoman's Washington, D.C. office.

Melville’s submission surpassed all others in Connecticut, and she was elected the state-level winner. She was granted a week-long trip to Washington D.C. to attend an educational program on understanding conflict resolution and peace-building.

She was also granted a $1,000 scholarship to the university of her choice. Melville was not available for comment because the university she chose was the United States Military Academy, and she is currently in the thick of basic training at West Point. Her mother, Martha Melville, was available to speak on her behalf.

“It was a whirlwind week for Sarah,” she said. “The conference took place the week of the Woodland graduation, so she went down, came back to Connecticut, and then went back down to Washington. She loved the trip, thought it was what she wanted, and she got a lot out of it.”

In her trip to Washington, Melville had the opportunity to meet with U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), who had nominated Melville to West Point earlier in the year.

In a phone interview DeLauro described Melville as a remarkable and talented young woman with a quiet reserve.

“She is truly a star,” DeLauro said. “It’s wonderful to have youngsters like her in our world today. Her determination and knowledge and her drive to accomplish as much as she does is outstanding.”

Sarah Melville will study international relations at West Point and hopes to build a career focused upon solving world problems such as human trafficking, poverty, maternal mortality and the oppression of women.

“She’s really looking forward to entering into West Point,” Martha Melville said. “She is up to the challenge. She is excited about the regimen and the rigor and everything that accompanies a West Point life style.”

Sarah Melville was described by the International Peace Committee as a passionate ideologue, activist, student, runner and singer.

She was a year-round varsity athlete, previously served as Chief Justice of the Woodland Regional Student Council and was a founding member of Woodland for Women Worldwide, an activist group currently raising money for the Somaly Mam Foundation and the Campaign for Female Education.

She is the female 2010 Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference Scholar-Athlete for Woodland Regional High School.