Melvin Van Cleave, Class of 2021
Melvin Van Cleave and his locker sign

Although his locker sign could lead you to believe otherwise, Cincinnati Country Day School graduate Melvin Van Cleave ’21 might be on track to prove one of humanity’s greatest theories one day. At least that is the goal.

“Ever since I was five years old, I have asked questions about the origination of the universe and have been frustrated that the answers aren’t out there,” explained Van Cleave. “It’s why my ultimate goal is to discover the unified theory of everything. It’s a good thing to chase.”

This curiosity is what also drew him to Cornell University, where he was offered a full, four-year scholarship through the school’s ROTC program.

“Cornell was my top choice, a reach school,” said Van Cleave. He explained that he has been in love with the school ever since he saw a video about the university in which the theme of curiosity prevailed.

This fall, Van Cleave plans to study astrophysics at Cornell as an astronomy major with a concentration in astrophysics. He would like to get his PhD in astrophysics and become a cosmology researcher.

“I would be down with contributing to the government – working for the Space Force or the Air Force – but doing what I want in my field,” said Van Cleave.

Melvin joined Cincinnati Country Day School in 8th grade after his family moved to Cincinnati from California. He feels the rigorous homework, assignments, and schedule prepared him to succeed at such a demanding and competitive university.

“Because Country Day is a college prep school, being a student here has prepared me to stay on top of my work and balance my schedule. The assignments…the workload is a lot. What my friends from other schools went through their junior year is what I went through as a freshman.”

Although Melvin looks forward to being more independent in college and discovering the key to unlock the universe’s secrets, he will carry Country Day with him forever. “I am going to miss the teachers the most. Mr. Faulhaber [math department chair] has been like a second dad to me. There are so many teachers who have made a difference in my life. I have genuine bonds with them, almost like friendships. It’s been a great experience.”