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Press Release | Sept. 29, 2023

Jersey City native, Coast Guard officer receives coveted 2023 LATINA Style Distinguished Military Service Award

PORTSMOUTH, Va.  – Lt. j.g. Melanie Arroyave, an officer stationed at Coast Guard Sector Virginia, was awarded the 2023 LATINA Style Distinguished Military Service Award during the National LATINA  Symposium held in Arlington, Virginia Sept. 21. This recognition commemorates her outstanding achievements and unwavering commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion within the Coast Guard and the broader community. 

Arroyave, a native of Jersey City, New Jersey, has consistently demonstrated exemplary dedication and leadership as a junior officer at Sector Virginia since reporting aboard in December 2021. In her role as the Recruitment Action Unit Officer representing the Atlantic Area Commander, she organized a multitude of recruiting events, including two nationally televised engagements that reached over 30,000 viewers. She also served as a panelist for the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s Hispanic Heritage Month, where she addressed an audience of 300 cadets. She fostered robust relationships with Minority Serving Institutions, skillfully coordinated recruiting events, and made meaningful contributions to school-wide programs. Additionally, she played a pivotal role in Sector Virginia’s Leadership Diversity Advisory Council, leading the successful planning and execution of the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration and a groundbreaking transgender military service panel. 

Arroyave’s achievements extend to her role as an executive board member of the Coast Guard Women’s Advisory Board, where she provides vital recommendations to the Commandant regarding recruitment, retention, advancement, and the well-being of women serving in the Coast Guard. Her active involvement in shaping policy and fostering inclusivity exemplifies her dedication to enhancing the Coast guard’s work environment. 

“I do feel a sense of responsibility to proudly represent my culture, both as a Latina and a Coast Guard officer,” Arroyave, a Colombian-American, said. “It’s a unique culture within a unique culture and I feel seen and honored to be recognized for that." 

During her previous tenure as a recruiter in Newark, New Jersey, Arroyave succeeded in recruiting and enlisting five minority females, contributing significantly to the Coast Guard’s ongoing efforts to enhance diversity and inclusion. 

Before her time as a recruiter she served as a Luce Scholar in Seoul, South Korea, where she worked with North Korean defectors assisting their transition into the democratic society of South Korea. In addition, she worked on a documentary film, “The Korean Dream,” highlighting South Korea’s immigration law and a new wave of Association of Southeast Asian Nations migrants, specifically 

Filipinos, who make up over 25% of the world’s merchant mariners. The film, which follows the lives of five Filipinos and explores their unique talents and struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic, debuted at the U.S. Embassy in South Korea. 

Her professional accolades extend to various military service awards, including an Achievement Medal, Coast Guard Good Conduct Medal, and DHS Outstanding Unit Award. Her educational accomplishments include earning the Leadership Certificate from the Institute for Women's Leadership, as well as being the recipient of several prestigious scholarships, including the Equal Opportunity Fund and the Hispanic Fund Scholarships. 

A graduate of Coast Guard recruit training, Arroyave was selected for the College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative Program in 2018. She graduated with summa cum laude honors in Labor Studies and Public Health from Rutgers University ranking among the top 2% of her graduating class. 

With an unwavering dedication to mentorship and education, she has devoted her time to mentor and tutor women and girls, including her active involvement with Girl Scouts and the YWCA, an organization dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. 

Her recognition with the 2023 LATINA Style Distinguished Military Service Award underscores her remarkable contributions to the Coast Guard, her ceaseless commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion, and is a testament to the potential for achievement through dedication, leadership, and service to others.