A participant of the U.S. Coast Guard College Pre-Commissioning Initiative, Melanie Arroyave is an active-duty servicewoman and a full-time student. Born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, she is a proud Colombian-American, the first of her family to attend college. She expects to graduate in May 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in Labor Studies & Employment Relations and a minor in Public Health and Women and Gender Studies from Rutgers University, having transferred from American University in 2017. During her time in Washington D.C., she interned for U.S. Congressman Albio Sires (NJ-8). At Rutgers, she is an Institute for Women’s Leadership Scholar and a recipient of the Equal Opportunity Fund and the Hispanic Fund Scholarships. As a 2018-2019 Lloyd C. Gardner Fellow, Melanie conducted a comparative analysis on the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in New York and New Jersey. In the Spring of 2019, she worked pro bono as a Federal Mediation Associate for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in New York.
Most recently, Melanie was awarded the 2019 Student Upstander Award, and shared with her community how interviewing a Holocaust survivor has helped her come to terms with her own family’s struggles as Andean natives of Colombia, and how it shaped her future. After her Luce Scholar year, she will attend Coast Guard Officer Candidate School to train to be an officer. She plans to earn a J.D. degree and pursue a career as a Judge Advocate in the military while also defending domestic worker rights. During her free time, Melanie volunteers at her local Girl Scouts and enjoys podcasting, kayaking, hiking, and high interval training.