Melvin Mercado: Feeling at Home
Emily Weir

Melvin Mercado came to NMH from the hustle-and-bustle Bronx, so it was a big transition when he traded the Big Apple for NMH, “where sometimes the only thing you can hear is the wind,” he says.
Melvin admits that it was a hard adjustment, though now he sees that rural areas have their own benefits. “Yesterday I spent three hours doing homework sitting in the sun, and there’s a lot of free space to do things I might not be able to do in the city,” he says. Things such as learning how to wrestle and play lacrosse, running for office in the school’s Debate Society, which competes internationally, and hanging out with friends on the athletic fields.
As an admission tour guide, Melvin often tells prospective students that, when he came to NMH, “I was immediately embraced by students who make me feel this was my home away from home.”
“There is a community here that cares about you,” he says. When — as a ninth-grader — he often procrastinated on homework, teachers and advisers noticed and helped him develop better study habits. And whenever he felt anxious, Melvin recalls having “a lot of arms to fall on.” The result? “I developed confidence in my work at school,” he says.
Last fall, Melvin helped organize a Black Lives Matter demonstration on campus, at which he spoke about his experiences as a person of color. “At NMH, I had conversations about things I’d not seen as all that important before — sexuality, religions, gender bias, racial discrimination.... I’ve realized that if you want to see change, you have to make it happen. I want to work on the present so the future is better; that’s really important to me now.”