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Melanie Jorgensen ’14: The Gymnast

She might look tiny, but Melanie Jorgensen ’14 is one collegiette™ who packs a wallop. As a young member of the Cornell Varsity Gymnastics Team, Melanie has already seen quite a bit of success – her freshman season was topped off by the team’s first Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) championship title in history.Though the reigning Ivy League Uneven Bars Champion, National USA Gymnastics (USAG) Uneven Bars Champion, and All-American Athlete might seem superhuman, she’s also just a regular girl balancing the demands of academics, sorority life, and other hobbies – all while mastering the perfect moves on the mat.

A self-described “daredevil, crazy little kid,” Melanie got into the world of gymnastics at age three as a way to “channel my energy.” She found it both fun and challenging – a combination that would drive her to continue flipping and flying throughout her adolescence. After growing up 35 minutes from San Francisco in Lafayette, California, Melanie decided to take a leap of faith and turned down an acceptance to the University of California – Berkeley in order to pursue her sport and academics on the East Coast. “I loved the Cornell campus, it was so beautiful – and I liked the [gymnastics] team, too!” Once she met her future roommate, a fellow gymnastics teammate, Melanie decided Cornell was the place for her – and she hasn’t looked back since.

Melanie [far right, first row] with the ECAC Championship Cornell Gymnastics Team earlier this year.

Finding a balance between athletics and the rest of the opportunities Cornell has to offer hasn’t always been easy – though Melanie is an active member of Alpha Xi Delta sorority, spending three hours a day in practice with meets every weekend for twelve weeks doesn’t leave time for a whole load of extracurricular pursuits. In the spare time she does have, Melanie loves to read and stay active through skiing, biking, and jet skiing (not in Ithaca, of course!). Though it’s a major commitment, it is obvious that Melanie doesn’t resent it for a moment. Because the Ivy League does not offer scholarships for athletics, everyone on the gymnastics team is there because they love it and love being together – “it’s not our job, like a lot of other people see it.” Even on the days when there’s a prelim in the evening, she’s running on little sleep, and practice is particularly tough, Melanie says, “those days make [me] stronger.”

So what inspires this dynamo girl? Her mom, of course! A lawyer and the co-owner of Gym Monkeys (www.gymmonkeys.com), a clothing company specifically for stylish gymnasts, Melanie’s mom has always been “supportive and helpful” in helping her daughter reach her dreams. Melanie seems to be passing on the inspiration – “once you find your passion, just go after it with your whole heart! If you’re driven, it’s so much easier.”

Just the Facts

Favorite class and why? PSYCH 1101 or AEM 2210 with Professor Jack Little – “he’s just a cool professor . . . I’m still deciding if I like the subject or not.”

Favorite TV show: Grey’s Anatomy and Gossip Girl. “My sisters and I watch together and now I can’t stop!”

Choice Ithaca hotspot: “Collegetown Bagels or Catherwood Library [laughs] – it’s close to Teagle! The Sky Bridge in Court Kay Bauer was always fun . . . oh, and the gorges – during Fall Break I went down there with a group of friends and hung out.”

Favorite campus eatery: “Statler! [smiles] I would die without their salads!”

Future plans: Melanie is planning to transfer to the Dyson School [Applied Economics and Management] and to study accounting. She is also taking an internship with her uncle, the CFO of Meridian Pacific, a consulting firm – “I’ll be getting to know the accounting world!”

No. of 161 Things completed: Melanie originally thought 40, but it ended up being only 25 after she counted! “My favorite was definitely going to the Boatyard Grill with a professor – and not having to pay!”

Favorite thing about attending Cornell: “The friends I’ve made.”

Favorite memory made at Cornell: “One of my best memories was going to Nationals [for gymnastics] in Colorado – just being with my teammates was really fun, and then after we won we got to celebrate. It was also really pretty there.”

Trickiest gymnastics move(s) to master? Double back on the floor (for you strangers to gymnastics, that’s two flips and a landing) and the Jaeger (doing a flip on the bar and catching it again!) 

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