Melody Cherfils never thought she would want to be a doctor. By the eighth grade she had failing grades and wasn’t getting the support at school she craved. As a child from a single-parent home, even a complete high school education seemed unattainable.
“For me to graduate was a major accomplishment,” said the 2006 graduate of Miami Union Academy. “They (academy teachers) pushed us and they said we could achieve what society said we couldn’t achieve.”
Life still has had its twists and turns, but Melody remains dedicated to fulfilling her goals.
“I hope to one day become an MD in ophthalmology,” she said confidently.
Those aspirations, she says, never would have been possible without her mother discovering the Step Up For Students Scholarship Program.
Melody’s mom, Mellie Prophete, noticed that her daughter, as well as her two sons, needed help and started looking for it. But raising a family alone meant money was beyond tight.
“I always said if I could afford it, I would send my kids to private school,” she said, adding that she always thought that would be a better option for her kids, who needed a closer relationship with teachers.
Then Mellie heard about Step Up’s scholarship and soon the single mom who didn’t think she had options, was providing three of her children with a Step Up funded education at private school.
“My kids have excelled since the beginning of the scholarship program,” she said proudly. “They’ve excelled academically and athletically.”
Her son, Dayvon Prophete, graduated from Community Christian High School in Melbourne and he now attends a local community college in Brevard County. Her son, Trevaughn Remy, who has been on the Step Up program since the second grade, will graduate from Melbourne Central Catholic High next year. He’s on the track, basketball and football teams and dreams of one day playing college football, but he’s looking toward a career in either civil engineering or sports medicine. He credits Step Up with giving him the opportunity to go to better schools.
“I had more time to work with the teacher,” he said, touting the small classrooms. “It helped me get better grades.”
Melody is proud of her brothers, too. And she’s grateful to her mom for reaching out and applying for the scholarships.
“With her making that move, I felt like she really wants us to succeed. She wanted us to have a better life,” she said.
Melody says the atmosphere and fewer students at Miami Union Academy made all the difference.
Cornelia Sewer, Miami Union’s registrar, remembers Melody’s first days at school.
“She was a quiet student,” she said. “When she came she was a little hesitant, but she got into it.”
Melody was involved in extracurricular activities like choir and got to travel to different states for class trips.
“The family atmosphere, she said that really impacted her,” Cornelia recalled. “She was so happy to be here.”
After graduating from Miami Union Academy, Melody attended Oakwood University in Huntsville, Ala. to study nursing, but in 2008 moved to Houston, Tex. to be near her father.
“I was just homesick,” she said. “I really did miss home and I wanted to be in an environment where I was comfortable.”
Melody has settled into Houston, has married and has a 1-year-old daughter, Aaliyah. Along the way, she stumbled into the optical business, selling glasses and found a passion for the industry. To her a career in ophthalmology makes sense.
“I found it was very intriguing and fun,” she said of the optical field.
Melody plans on finishing her undergraduate work at a local college to move toward that goal of becoming a doctor. She concedes now that she’s a mom it will be more difficult, but she doesn’t have any doubt she’ll make it. Her family is extremely supportive.
“Just that encouragement makes me want to keep on doing what I’m doing,” she said.
When Mellie considers Melody’s accomplishments and thinks what the scholarships have given to her family, she has a sense of relief knowing that without Step Up the outcome could have been very different.
“They’ve had some troubles, but they came through,” she boasted.
She doesn’t forget the schools her children attended either.
“There were parents there, teachers there who actually encouraged me and my kids: You can do it.”
About Miami Union Academy
“We prepare young minds for the Future,” is the mantra for Miami Union Academy, which was established in 1917 as a Seventh-day Adventists school. The school’s mission isn’t only a spiritual one; it’s one that combines a challenging academic environment with one that’s rich in tradition with service, character building and leadership. The Pre-K-12 school is operated by 12 constituent Seven-day Adventists churches in the Southeastern Conference. About 294 students from diverse backgrounds attended the school during the 2011-2012 school year. Of those, 170 were Step Up scholars. The school is accredited by the National Council for Private School, Middle States Accreditation and the Accrediting Association of North American Division. To measure academic success, the school uses the Iowa Basic Test of Basic Skills for grades 3 through 8; and the ACT for high school students. Tuition for the 2012-2013 school year is $5,600 for kindergarten; $6,466 for 1st grade; $6,581 for 2nd through 5th; $6,921 for 6th and 7th; $7,071 for 8th; $8,307 for 9th and 10th; $8,407 for 11th; and $9,098 for 12th.