Melanie was the daughter of Dr.
Christine McFadden and Dr. Thomas Willis. She attended Our Lady of Mercy
School from kindergarten through eighth grade. Melanie was a tremendous
scholar, excelling in numerous academic achievements. While in grammar
school, Melanie participated in, and was finalist in many spelling bees. She
received the Governor’s Award for Academic Excellence each year, and was a
member of the Junior California Scholarship Federation. She received
numerous awards for speech and writing, was awarded the President’s Award
for Academic Excellence, and was the recipient of the National Merit Scholar
Melanie was actively involved in
Golden Valley High School, taking all of the honor level and advanced
placement courses available, and was a member of the leadership classes.
Melanie was selected to attend the Rotary Leadership Camp in 2002. She was a
member of the Junior Varsity Cheerleading Squad her freshman and sophomore
year. Melanie choreographed the halftime dance numbers, and led her junior
class to winning the “Most Spirited Class” Award.
Melanie was number two in her
junior class with a 4.5 Grade Point Average. She was actively working to
attend Stanford University after graduation.
Melanie was an accomplished
dancer, having studied ballet for 12 years at the Merced Academy of Dance.
She performed in numerous shows including Coppela and Alice in Wonderland.
She attended summer school ballet with the San Jose Company, and was
applying to attend an advanced summer school ballet.
Melanie was extremely close and
involved with her mother, brothers, and sister. She was a tremendous role
model for her siblings, and set a hard standard to follow with all of her
academic and social accomplishments. She had a large group of friends while
maintaining a very close knit relationship with a special group of friends
from elementary school. She was a very kind, generous, strong-willed,
independent, exceptionally intelligent and motivated young woman who was
widely loved and admired.