The Ivy Influence: Patricia Melton
Photo courtesy of Yale Sports Publicity
DID YOU KNOW: In 1994, Patricia
Melton became the first woman to receive the prestigious
New England Preparatory School Athletic Association (NEPSAA)
Souders Memorial Award for distinction in life and sports through
high ideals, leadership and accomplishment. She is one of three
women to receive the award overall.
As a child, Melton took an opportunity from A Better Chance Scholarship and ran with it to Yale University. There, she took an opportunity as a member of the track team to run to multiple Ivy League titles. She used that experience to run to the 1988 Olympic Trials finals. Now, Melton helps children run to their dreams.
Born and raised in Cleveland, Melton attended a high school with limited funding for books and teachers and no broad-based athletics to speak of. Thanks to A Better Chance Scholarship, she wound up at Middlesex Prep School in Concord, Mass., for her sophomore year. All students at Middlesex Prep were required to participate in athletics and Melton discovered a love for a sport she had never heard of, lacrosse.
Melton was recruited by Yale and Brown but decided to take her talents to New Haven, Conn. Her coach put her at goalkeeper, which stymied her from doing what she loved -- running. After one season, she joined the track and field team.
Track and field turned out to be Melton’s calling. She won
the League's outdoor 100m hurdles title and placed second in the
100m dash as a freshman but suffered family tragedy which kept her
in and out of Yale for two years. After a stint in the Marine
corps, she returned to the Bulldogs for her junior year and really
took off. In her final two seasons, she tallied with six Ivy
individual championships and two Most Outstanding Athlete titles.
She twice placed first in both the indoor 55m and 200m dash.
If that wasn't enough, Melton also took second-place nationally in the hurdles at the AIAW, the predecessor to the NCAA. Her efforts made her an easy selection for the Nellie Elliot Outstanding Senior Athlete Award, Yale's top athletic prize. She graduated in 1982 with a degree in Afro-American Studies.
After graduating from Yale in 1982 with a degree in Afro-American studies, Melton took to the national stage, switching to the 800m run over hurdling and coaching herself to the finals of the Olympic Trials in Indianapolis in 1988.
Melton obtained a job with the Goodwill Games but decided that what she really wanted to do was open charter schools in urban areas all over America. She now serves as an education consultant to states and communities to help them design school programs for under-served and low-income urban high school students. She is the director of X-Mester, an early college summer residential experience on the campus of Vincennes University in Vincennes, Ind., for rising high school seniors.
Melton was instrumental in creating X-Mester as it is today, recruiting elite college students and graduates to serve as teachers, mentors and role models for the high school students who take part in the program. The Early College X-Mester is the only such program in the nation.
In 2007, the NCAA awarded Melton with a Silver Anniversary Award, recognizing former student-athletes who have distinguished themselves in their professional field since completing their college athletic careers.
Melton also co-founded HepsTrack.com, a website devoted to Ivy League track and field. She received a master’s in education from Arizona State and is currently pursuing her doctoral program and dissertation at Penn.