Patricia Melton won six individual Ivy League titles and qualified for the 1988 Olympic trials but she has never let sports define her. As one of seven children raised by a single parent, Melton overcame tremendous odds to become the first college graduate in her family. Today, she is back in New Haven, Connecticut, working in the shadows of Yale University where she made her mark as one of the best track and field athletes in the history of the school.
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Melton became familiar with adversity. Her father
abandoned the family and she lost her mother to cancer when she was just 12-years old. Then, just before her sophomore year at Yale, her older brother was murdered. Melton somehow found the strength to earn her degree while excelling in track.
“My mother was just trying to get the kids in our family to graduate high school. That was a lot to go through, but I kept moving forward then college became an opportunity and I got into all the colleges I applied to. I learned team-building skills at Yale that translates to the work I do now.”
The work she does now is at New Haven Promise, where she has been the executive director since 2012. The organization is a scholarship program for local students who meet specific grade, behavior, community service and attendance criteria. She sees the value in investing in young people.
“I think of New Haven Promise as a green talent initiative and that talent is human talent and we need a lot more of that in this country. I feel very proud of it.”
Patricia Melton has made the most of her opportunities at every turn. From humble beginnings to collegiate stardom and beyond, she learned the crucial life lessons of humility, teamwork and selflessness. We commend her for passing on her wonderful spirit to a whole new generation.
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