Melekhina is currently ranked in the top 10 female chess players in the United States. She recently competed in the invitational US Women’s Championship in St. Louis. She has represented the United States in many World Youth and Junior competitions.
Born in the Ukraine, she came to the United States when she was two months old. Her family lived in Brooklyn and then moved to Philadelphia when she was five years old. The Drexel University graduate began to learn to play chess after her father taught her to play at just five years old. She was in her first tournament at age seven, has competed in numerous competitions, and recently placed eighth at the Women’s Championship.
As one of the youngest people in her class and obtaining her undergraduate degree at 19, she says that she doesn’t find her age to be an obstacle. “My age doesn’t really
create a difference,” she says. “My age helps in terms of coursework because going into law school I was still in school mode.”
Pursuing her law school career has slowed down her chess competition days. However, her chess training has helped her law school studies. She says it reinforces mental discipline and helps with concentration. “I definitely have to make critical decisions quickly; in chess there is a time pressure, similar to the time during an exam,” she says. “Chess players think similar to the way math students think; they think about things logically.” Her chess training tends to give her a good grasp of statutes such as those in criminal law. And while she is currently heading into her second year of law school, she still makes the time to play chess.
She says the environment at her law school definitely helps and the sense of community is one of the things that drew her to the school. She notes that she has always wanted a legal career and is very goal oriented.
Melekhina has many goals for her legal and chess careers. She hopes to achieve the international master title in chess and will still remain competitive. For her legal career, she would like to work on a campaign or clerk. She is currently interning in Washington, D.C.
Alisa After Class
“At first, I saw mountains as mountains and rivers as rivers. Then, I saw mountains were not mountains and rivers were not rivers. Finally, I see mountains again as mountains, and rivers again as rivers.”––Zen Proverb
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