Melanie Ceko’s (’00) incredible social justice work and passion for English and Science

For our November feature, LOSA would like to acknowledge Melanie Ceko (’00) and her incredible social justice work throughout Australia and overseas. Melanie shares with us her passion for Education and Science and how her schooling at Loreto allowed her to discovered her love for experimentation.

Melanie in her own words:

After graduating from Loreto College in 2000 I went on to study a Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Engineering (Civil and Environmental) double degree at the University of Adelaide. After a brief period working as a consultant engineer, I went back to university to complete a Graduate Diploma in Education, and later undertook a PhD in biochemistry. Since 2014 I have been teaching Chemistry and Mathematics at both secondary and tertiary levels.

I still vividly remember my introduction to Chemistry concepts in the winter of 1996. My Year 8 Science teacher suggested that some members of the class might like to enter the RACI Crystal Growing competition. Convinced that I would achieve larger crystals with less imperfections if I grew them at home under more controlled conditions, I asked my teacher if I could take a stockpile of potassium aluminium sulphate home. Amazingly, my teacher said yes and so began a term-long obsession with creating the best crystal I could. One could say that my Loreto education was instrumental in both initiating and fueling my love of experimentation.

Due in part to the strong social justice influence of Loreto, I have regularly embraced volunteer work since graduating. I have a passion for sea turtle conservation, which has seen me confronting poachers on deserted strips of the Costa Rican coastline and, less frighteningly, collecting flat back data with AusTurtle in northern Australia. In 2009 I was fortunate to be part-funded by the Old Scholars to join a group of Years 10 and 11 students on their Footsteps to India pilgrimage. My most recent trip, in July of this year, saw me teaching English to a group of novice monks in a rural village in Cambodia. Months later, as I sit here surrounded by no less than four electronic devices, a refrigerator and pantry full of food, and a wardrobe full of clothes, I cannot help but be inspired by knowing a group of young men who possess significantly less, but whose joy and enthusiasm for life is boundless.