Sometimes A Prince—But Now Going For Higher

Malik has been competing as a member of his school’s One Act Theater team since he was a freshman. The team earned State Champion bragging rights each of his four years. This year Malik was also awarded Outstanding Actor.

Although thespian Malik Jallow, 18, has most often played a charming prince—three times in all—it’s his portrayal of Conor O’Malley in “A Monster Calls” that resonates with him most.

“Like Conor, I come from a difficult upbringing,” shared Malik, whose mother and siblings settled 10 years ago in rural St. Paul, Virginia. “And just like Conor, despite the many complications of life, I, too, am responsible and determined to make something of the chaos.”

And determined, he is. Malik, a senior at Eastside High School in Coeburn, Virginia, will graduate this year as his school’s salutatorian.

“I’ve had a love for learning since I was a kid,” he confessed. “Academics seemed to come naturally to me. I’m also very outgoing, so I enjoy meeting people and making new friends.”

College has has been on my mind since 7th grade.

Ever the extrovert, Malik first met Melody Lipford, a College Advising Corps adviser, during his sophomore year when he noticed her in a nearby office and promptly went up and introduced himself. Melody, who works at the school advising low-income, first-generation college-going, and underrepresented seniors navigate a complicated college application process, began talking to Malik about his own higher education goals.

“College has been on my mind since seventh grade,” he recounted. “Melody helped me begin to think about decisions influencing my future. She’s been helping me with all of this since I was 15; now, here I am getting ready to go to college. Melody has played a significant part in getting me to this point.”

Malik will attend James Madison University in Harrisburg, Virginia, in the fall. It surprises no one that he will pursue a degree in musical theater. He hopes to eventually perform on Broadway, but looking further into the future, he’s already making plans to give back.

“With the knowledge that I gain, I hope one day to become a mentor and guide others in the same way I’ve been guided,” he said. “I want to help younger generations of performers to grow and develop— personally and professionally—to have the same opportunities as I’ve had to pursue what matters to me.”


Melody Lipford serves as a College Advising Corps adviser at the University of Virginia. She advises students at Eastside High School in rural Coeburn, Virginia. Melody, the first in her family to go to college, received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature from Emory & Henry College. If you would like to support the ongoing work of advisers, like Melody, to ensure every student is empowered to pursue postsecondary opportunities, please visit Celebrate Decision Day 2022.