Meliza Leitch has become a household name. Her recent instagram post, of a graduation photo accompanied by a recount of her struggle to get her LLB from British College of Applied Studies (BCAS) has become a hot topic in social media. Not so much because she tended bar to fund her studies, but a certain gossip website posted her instagram photographs of her in bikinis.

Meliza is a spirited Burgher girl with a flair for fashion. She lives with her parents and elder sister. From a very young age Meliza exhibited her uniqueness. She has been waiting to make a change since she was a kid. It happened during the time of the war, when her father’s business of export garments was hard hit because of the impact of the black market.

“I had to learn to take the bus. I was 11 and was travelling by bus with my mom,” recalled Meliza, who was rebellious even at that age. “I was wondering why people were staring at me. I kept asking my mom why they are like that. When my mom replied that’s just the way people are I was shocked. I couldn’t understand why people couldn’t just mind their own business.”

Meliza believed that the people had to change the way they think. “I am happy because I could do something different, because someone had to do it. This is what I wanted from the beginning,” she continued. She studied up to OLs at the Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya and she didn’t want to do ALs. Then she completed a foundation course at American National College (ANC).

She then joined BCAS to chase her childhood dream of becoming a lawyer. She completed two years there finishing her Higher National Diploma. She had only to complete her final year to complete the LLB.

“It all started when I wanted to continue the final year of LLB. When I told my dad I have to register for my final year and the fees are really high he felt really bad because it was not affordable,” Meliza explained what made her take a gap year.

She applied to all the jobs she could possibly think of because she needed the money to complete her LLB. “All this time I was doing a lot of marketing jobs for various companies including Midnight Divas and Kama Colombo.” Meliza narrated the hardships she had to undergo in her pursuit to raise funds for education.

She was finally able to land a job at a company. “But they would not incorporate new recruits into the permanent cardre until they completed ten sales and they fire you easily,” Maliza explained her precarious situation. She had to work really hard to keep her position there but until she was made permanent she was insecure. “I had already taken a bank loan and if I got fired I’d be in big trouble. So I joined a bar as a bartender,” she confided. “They paid really well and in fact, one could live comfortably on the pay just by working three hours a night,” said Meliza. She quit tending bar when she was made permanent at her day job.

“I have a very close relationship with my parents and sister,” said Meliza. “We don’t hide anything from each other. We share everything with each other. And my sister adores me. It’s like I am the apple of her eye and if something happens to me she goes berserk,” the love she has for her family showed in Meliza’s eyes. According to Meliza her parents were not very happy about her bar tending, yet she did not have a choice. She appreciates the support of her dad, to do what she has to do in her educational pursuits.

“Working at the bar was never easy. We had to talk to people and introduce the drink we were selling. But we never felt unsafe. It was really professional,” Meliza explained her work at the bar. “After witnessing how professional it was my parents didn’t say anything. As long as my family doesn’t feel bad about it I don’t care what others say,” she said.
Meliza wanted to be a lawyer ever since she was 13. But now she says she’s at crossroads on whether to pursue her dreams and take oaths as a lawyer, despite completing her LLB degree. She says she probably would do a Masters Degree in the future.

Meliza really loves to take photos of herself and shares them on social media often. If you scroll down her Facebook wall or Instagram, you would be amazed by the collection of photos of herself, Meliza had added from time to time.

“Everything has a reason. I started modeling because I understood how important pictures were. How you market yourself in society is important. I understood the importance of social media at a very young age.” She knew that if one can harness social media one can achieve wonders through them. “You can portray yourself in any way you want. In order to look good on my Facebook or Instagram, I needed good pictures. To get good pictures I had to market,” said Meliza.

Speaking of the responses the photographs she posted on social had received Meliza feels that gender discrimination still prevails in most of the fields.

“It is mostly the older generations that discriminate females. Yet, the younger generation will be the ones that have  to step out and say no to gender discrimination. In my case the support I received was immense and it proves that there is hope, that this situation will change for the better. Not right now, but within the next 10 to 15 years it will definitely change.”

“I got both positive and negative reactions from people. They judged me even without knowing what I was going through. But right now the reaction is 99 per cent positive,” said Meliza. For Meliza, the support she received from her friends was vital. She is happy whenever her friends say that she has inspired them in some way.

“I wasn’t exhibiting myself at bars and clubs. My situation called for me to work hard, trying not to get fired from my day job, while keeping my part time job,” recalled Meliza triumphantly.  In fact, all the while she had to juggle studies, hit the gym frequently and maintain her Instagram account. “I had to balance everything while dealing with so much pressure,” Meliza added.

“I actually cannot believe I came out of all this in one piece. I’d have lost my wits. The reaction from society gets so bad sometimes,” Meliza added.

The reaction changed since she posted a photograph of her LLB graduation. “I am being called for many interviews and to be featured in magazines. Every single day I get more than 300 messages from various people supporting me.” She has also received widespread support in social media, successfully stifling any negative comments.
“I got only one bad reaction but everyone on social media is bashing him,” mentioned Meliza. Yet Meliza has taken it in stride, not even bothering to respond. “It’s not in her nature to respond to people like that.”

Malpapadam in its blog post criticized a certain individual who referred to Meliza as a ‘whore’ for posing in skimpy clothes and bashed the institution which she graduated from, calling it a ‘bad place with no standards’. Malpapadam commended her for handling the negative response in a dignified manner. “That aside, the really impressive thing about this whole ordeal is how Melissa handled it all…She did not play the victim. She probably went to gym and went on with her life, slaying, being the boss she is, when most people on the internet sat in front of their computers and tried to school an idiot and other idiots who condoned his idiocy.

Melissa did not talk. She did not respond. She proved a theory that I very strongly believe in and live by – when shit hits the fan the best way to respond is to not respond. She and her silence only made me appreciate and admire her even more.”