Student Feature: Melenny Inoa—A Young Cheer Success Story


At 14 years old, Melenny Inoa is already an accomplished cheerleader, a dedicated student, and a role model for those around her. Half Puerto Rican and half Dominican, she is a freshman at Clifton High School (CHS), where she is involved in several extracurricular activities, including being on the varsity cheer team and volunteering as a coach for younger cheer athletes.

Melenny's passion for the sport started at a very young age, thanks to her dad's encouragement. "When I was two years old, my dad would always say, 'come on, let's do cheerleading!'" she recalls. "He would lift me in the air, and I loved it. After that, cheerleading became a routine for us, and we did it every day."

As Melenny grew, so did her passion and involvement in cheer. "When I was around five years old, my older cousin joined a cheer team called 'Steel Force' in Jersey City," she says. "Seeing her practice around the house, I was her little sidekick. I would attend some of her practices and competitions and absolutely loved it. It came to the point where I knew that was something I really wanted to do."

In 2017, Melenny's goal of becoming a cheerleader came true when she joined the Clifton Junior Mustangs cheer team. She quickly became a flyer—a person thrown in the air during stunts—and the captain of her team. Her memorable experience with the Junior Mustangs gave her the skills and knowledge to be recruited on CHS's varsity cheer team as a freshman. As her mastery and dedication to the sport grew, Melenny volunteered as a coach for younger athletes. Her coaching allowed her to spark the sport's passion in the eyes of the young while solidifying her understanding of cheer techniques.

Reflecting on her achievements, Melenny is thrilled to have been part of a remarkable team that won first place in the New Jersey State Cheer Championships. "I am so excited to get a state ring as a freshman, and I'm happy with all the progress I made, from not knowing how to do anything to making every stunt hit," she shares. Her dedication to her team and her passion for cheerleading are evident in her accomplishments and she is excited about what the future holds.

Melenny credits her early success in high school to her middle school teacher and mentor, Ms. Zangara. "She was my best friend. She always provided wisdom to help with personal situations and inspired me to accomplish my goals," Melenny says. Ms. Zangara's advice and support have helped her stay focused and motivated, and Melenny is grateful for her impact on her life.

Melenny has developed a routine to help her balance her academics, extracurriculars, and personal life. "On weekdays, I wake up early for school and work hard to keep my grades up. When I come home, I take a short break before practice," she says, "After practice, I come home to do school work, have dinner, and get ready to repeat for the next day." When Melenny is not cheering, she enjoys developing her personal relationships by spending time with her friends and family. "I love to go for walks, go to the mall, and record TikTok videos with friends," while "on the weekends, I love to spend time with my family and visit my great grandma's grave."

Melenny's time management, work ethic, and dedication has paid off numerous times. As a cheerleader, she has won multiple competitions and continues to display her talent on the mat. As a student, she maintains excellent grades and is committed to her education, and as a role model, she believes, "It's important for teenagers to have goals and dreams and to work hard to achieve them. But it's also important to have fun and enjoy life. That's why [she] love[s] cheerleading so much; it's a lot of hard work but also a lot of fun."

Reminiscing about her short time at CHS, she has learned valuable lessons that will hold true throughout her lifetime. Melenny puts it best when she expresses, "High school has taught me that no matter how many people disagree with your success, you should never give up on what you love the most." Her ability to continue to chase her goals, despite the opinions of others, has developed a level of grit in her that will propel her forward in future challenges as a high school student. Just in freshman year, Melenny recalls facing several difficulties, including changes in friendships, severe performance anxiety, and trying to fit in. "I always imagined how great high school would be but never thought I would face real-world challenges yet. I tried my best to be the best at everything all at once, but it was hard. So I learned to take it day by day," she shares.

Acknowledging the importance of incremental improvement, Melenny has pushed herself academically and personally. She sees herself contributing to society while pursuing what she has always loved. "After high school, I see myself going to college to continue my cheerleading career and would like to study criminal justice. I already have colleges in mind, and they are all out of state, except Rutgers University."

Melenny's passion for cheerleading, commitment to her education, and positive attitude make her a shining example of what teenagers can achieve with hard work, dedication, and support. As she continues to pursue her dreams, she hopes to inspire others to do the same. Said best by Melenny, "Don't be afraid to chase your dreams, no matter how big or small they may seem. With hard work and determination, anything is possible. And always remember to have fun along the way!"

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