Yicaury Melo ’09 Named Director of Multicultural Initiatives and the Clarendon Scholars Program

On a summer evening in 2005—the first Yicaury Melo ’09 would spend on Gordon’s campus—“the devotion was that we’ve been brought to Gordon for such a time as this,” she remembers. It was a phrase that would come to define her experience in the third cohort of the New City Scholars, which was later renamed the Clarendon Scholars.

Fifteen years later, as she becomes director of that very same program, “whenever there’s a new step, that verse always comes up.”

For such a time as this: Words spoken by Mordecai to Esther as a reminder of her call by God to use her position as queen to rescue the Jewish people. “She put her life on the line to speak up for her people,” explains Melo. In the same way, “multicultural students and the marginalized have always been my people. I’ve been brought to this position for such a time as this.”

“I know that I’ve been sent as an advocate and I’m not going in by myself.”

Melo steps into the role of director of the Multicultural Initiatives Office (MIO) and the Clarendon Scholars honors program at a time when national attention is drawn to issues of racism and injustice—a backdrop that adds weight to the task at hand. But, Melo says, like Esther, “I know that I’ve been sent as an advocate and I’m not going in by myself.”

Originally from Lawrence, MA, Melo connected to Gordon through the Higher Education Resource Center of the Emmanuel Gospel Center, through which the New City Scholars (now Clarendon Scholars) program was originally founded in partnership with Gordon. Its goal has always been to equip urban students to return to the city to lead and serve.

“When I graduated,” says Melo, “I did exactly what the program was designed for, which was that I return to the city.” Back in Lawrence, she worked for four years in nonprofits and community development organizations. The focus of her work ranged from preventing foreclosures during the housing crisis to farming and sustainability in the city to equipping middle school girls for leadership.

In 2013, she returned to Gordon as the multicultural admissions officer and part of her role was working specifically with prospective Clarendon Scholars. “What drew me back to Gordon was being part of Admissions and giving back to the program that had given me so much,” she says, “and now I’m running it!”

In between, Melo joined the Student Life team as the multicultural student services coordinator, helping to launch the Multicultural Initiatives Office (MIO) and continuing to help with Clarendon planning and events. 

“Now, having the opportunity to go to the higher level is very exciting because I’ve been working with students long enough to see where the need is,” Melo says. “Having that perspective is vital; I’m not coming from a top-down approach but coming from the ground-up, where I see the students, their efforts, their vision.”

As director, she’ll oversee leadership development, advising, the first-year seminar, alumni relations, mentorships and social activities for the Clarendon Scholars, as well as MIO’s student clubs and resources like Afro Hamwe, La Raza and ASIA. In all of it, she says she’ll be “working with campus to make sure we’re making concrete changes across campus to be more inclusive.” Part of this work will involve collaborating with the Multicultural Affairs Committee and Dr. Nicholas Rowe, founder of the Clarendon Scholars program and current associate vice president for student and global engagement, on the implementation of the Shalom Statement, an initiative started by Clarendon Scholar Jorge Rodriguez ’14 to strengthen intercultural literacy on campus.

I’m not coming from a top-down approach but coming from the ground-up, where I see the students, their efforts, their vision.”

Melo’s appointment to director marks the first time in the Clarendon Scholars program’s 18-year history that it will be run by an alum—and not just any alum. “I have the unique privilege of knowing every single Clarendon ever,” says Melo. Because of her long history with the program, she has personally connected with the nearly 200 current and former scholars.

Outside of her role at Gordon, Melo serves on the USA Unites Working Committee (part of Global Unites) and on the Diversity Team of the ACSD Executive Committee. She also plays tambourine, plans parties and designs floral arrangements for weddings.