JHS Student Overcomes Obstacles To Excel

Shelby Melquist is a senior at Jamestown High School who has an inspiring story to tell.

At the age of 3, Shelby was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder, a form of autism that displays symptoms of Asperger syndrome.

Despite the many developmental and social obstacles that she has had to overcome, Shelby has demonstrated an amazing affinity for her school studies, particularly in math.

“I like accounting and math,” said Shelby. “I enjoy it because it’s concrete and literal, and I’m a literal thinker. (Math) isn’t too much (of a challenge), except for the first few weeks in geometry. I was worried about if I was going to pass or not. It was just a right-brain and left-brain (situation). Plus, it was more inferential, and that’s a weakness in me.”

Shelby plans to apply her accounting ability toward becoming a certified public accountant. While she doesn’t have in mind a specific company that she wants to work for, Shelby does not plan on doing too much traveling – stating that as long as she can be a CPA, she’ll be happy.

“I don’t want to have to travel to and from different companies because I don’t ever want a driver’s license,” she said. “All I know is that I don’t want to live in South Carolina. It’s highly unlikely that I would stay (in Jamestown) but, as a last resort, I might.”

Shelby anticipates attending Jamestown Community College for the first two years of her college career, and is undecided on where she will go to get her bachelor’s degree. She has already applied to and been accepted by JCC. By the time that she graduates in June, she will have accumulated 17 college credits through her involvement in several College Connections courses, including: accounting, computer applications, statistics, problem-solving and calculus.

Shelby was recommended for the Standing Out in the Crowd feature by Vesna Carlson, a JHS paraprofessional, who has been working with Shelby for 10 years, since she was in second grade. According to Carlson, Shelby’s enrollment in the accounting class, along with her achievement of a perfect score on the final exam, helped her to decide what she wanted to major in when she goes to college.

“When (Shelby) came to JHS, she decided that she wanted to graduate with an Advanced Regents diploma,” said Carlson. “She herself chose the classes that would help her achieve her goal. One of those classes was the accounting. For her accounting final, she received a perfect score and extra credit, too. I asked her, ‘How did you do that?’ not really expecting an answer from her. She looked at me, and very seriously said, ‘I don’t know, Mrs. Carlson, I just do it.'”

Shelby has worked hard for her academic achievements. She has received numerous awards and has been involved in several clubs.

While at Persell Middle School, she was a member of Junior Honor Society and was elected as her class treasurer while in eighth grade. She was also a two-time spelling bee champion. In 2008, she received an Outstanding Achievement award from The Resource Center.

At Jamestown High School, Shelby is a member and co-treasurer of JHS’ National Honor Society chapter. She has been involved in a Saturday bowling league for many years, and has been part of the varsity bowling team for the past three.

According to Carlson, Shelby has a good relationship with her peers, helping them with their own studies.

“Shelby is well liked by her peers, who are always willing to help her and, occasionally, ask her for help – especially in math, physics and spelling,” she said.

Carlson also said that Shelby is renowned for her multiple sneezes.

“When she starts sneezing, everyone stops everything and silently counts to themselves how many times,” said Carlson. “It’s funny to watch. So far, her record is 10 in a row, and everyone is hoping for 11 before they all graduate.”

“We don’t know what causes it, it just happens,” said Shelby.

To nominate a student for Standing Out In The Crowd, contact Gavin Paterniti at 487-1111, ext. 243, or email