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Dancing Into the Future

February 2020

Michela Malone dancing

For as long as she can remember, Michela Melone has been a dancer - modern dance, ballet, hip-hop, and break dancing. When she was a teenager, her hometown, about an hour from Rome, Italy, was rocked by an earthquake. Michela had to move in with a family in a distant city and ride the bus to school every day. One day on that bus she met a boy named Mattia who shared her passion for break dancing.

“I told him about [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints], and he said, ‘I will never get baptized,’” she remembers. “I said, ‘Okay,’ but he kept asking questions. And eventually, after a couple of months, he got baptized.”

She and Mattia dated for years, and after they graduated from high school, he left on a mission to Portugal. Michela, meanwhile, was teaching dance and dancing professionally. Nonetheless, when the opportunity arose, she chose to serve a mission as well and found herself on Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

“My mission was supposed to end in June, but they added a transfer to everyone’s missions, so I stayed until July,” she says. “I was planning to dance at a conservatory in Rome, but I knew the auditions were in June, so I’d have to wait a full year to audition again. I decided to just try BYU-Idaho instead.”

Michela shared her new plans with Mattia, and to her delight, he responded that he too had thought about going to BYU-Idaho. Six months after coming home from her mission, Michela found herself in chilly Rexburg, Idaho, with Mattia, studying dance.

“I’d lived in Salt Lake City, so I knew what I was getting into!” Michela says of the notorious Rexburg winters. “I was worried that I would lose a lot of training over my mission, but when I started dancing again, it was like I’d never left.”

Michela and Mattia married after their freshman year. She started working for Pathway (now BYU-Pathway Worldwide), and then BYU-Idaho Audiovisual Services, and then as a teacher’s assistant for humanities professors. Through it all, managing time and money was always a challenge.

“It was challenging for both of us because we’re both international students, and we could only work 20 hours on campus,” she says. “As soon as we got there, we started receiving help. I got the talent award scholarship, and then I received general financial aid. Not only the fact that I’m here but also that I’m graduating after only three years—that’s all because of scholarships.”

Now that they’ve graduated, Mattia is headed for a PhD program in chemical engineering at USC. He’s hoping for a career as a research professor, and Michela hopes to someday complete an MFA and have her own dance company.

“It’s nice to know that someone believed in me and trusted me with their money,” she says. “Thank you so much for your desire and willingness to help make a difference. You may not see it, but a lot of people really need those scholarships.”