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Indianapolis: Delise O’Meally (NCAA) & Melissa Farquharson

After stopping by to see Aziza at USA Gymnastics, we walked down the street to meet our Emerging Leader Melissa Farquharson and her mentor Delise O’Meally for lunch.

Melissa said playing sports and getting an education were her “ticket out of the inner city and into a better life.” She describes herself as “blessed and inspired.”

Much of her success can be attributed to a supportive mother and father and a relentless determination to achieve her dreams and “find a way out.”

The dire situation facing girls living in the inner cities of Kingston troubles Melissa at a very deep level. She has committed her life to using sports and education as a way to inspire local communities.

“Girls in my community often grow up with abusive mothers and absent fathers. As a result, they suffer from low self-esteem and a lack of self-respect. Many of them are also suffering from extreme poverty and an overall sense of feeling beaten down everywhere they turn in life. I believe sports and education are the best ways to prevent another hopeless generation of women.”

The NCAA’s commitment to impacting the lives of young people through education and sport participation are a perfect match for Melissa. She is developing new ideas for the National Basketball Programs she works on, and the NCAA is arming her with information about the correlations among sport participation, graduation rates, and life skill development. Melissa is working hard on the project that she will implement when she returns to Jamaica that will encourage young girls to participate in sport and find a way to better jobs and a better future.