Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Following fashion show success, CSN President Arantxa Melendez reflects on leadership at Suffolk

Courtesy of Arantxa Melendez
CSN president Arantxa Melendez address in audience at the Omni Parker House in Boston.

President of Suffolk University’s Caribbean Student Network, Arantxa Melendez, has been able to make such an overwhelming, positive impact on the Suffolk University community. 

Melendez has been successful in her role as both a member and leader of the CSN organization by upholding a space on campus where students could find sanctuary and community. This past January she received the “Creating the Dream” award at Suffolk. The award, given every year, embraces those who create a respectful and inclusive environment for Suffolk’s communities of color. 

“Hearing the President of the University say, ‘you’re a light when you walk into a room’ is just crazy. I felt really honored…it gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling, like I’m doing the right thing,” said Melendez.

Throughout Melendez’s Suffolk career, she has accomplished just that. She first began her impact as a freshman on campus, joining the CSN’s weekly Zoom meetings in search of a place of refuge. 

“You look for a place where you can be around people who love and know what you’re experiencing,” said Melendez. “We were at the height of racial turmoil, we were going through a new presidential election. I felt like I needed a sanctuary almost.” 

By the end of her freshman year, she received a message from the organization stating they were holding elections for the organization’s e-board. As she entered her sophomore year, Melendez held the title of Vice President of the Caribbean Student Network. 

When asked about the experience of coming into the leadership position, Melendez responded, “You can have big ideas but we’re still at a university at the end of the day. You have to hear ‘no’ a few times before you realize what is a realistic thing that I can do for my club and for the students that are also in it.”

Melendez has gone above and beyond for CSN during her presidency, throughout her Junior and Senior year. Melendez wanted CSN to be known as “a group of students just like you, who are willing to advocate for you and put on events that are directly for you but also for other people if they just want to learn about different things.” 

She has initiated a toy drive, implemented an outreach committee, oversaw the sold-out fashion show, “The Urban Collective” that was put on earlier this month and created a space for inclusivity and creativity on campus. 

“I think the most unique thing about Arantxa as CSN president is how long she has held a leadership position in the club. Being VP as a sophomore and President for two years after that she has become the face of CSN. So to see her take on the role as well as continuing to see her grow as a leader the entire time has been really special to watch,” said Selvin Backert, the Outreach Committee Chair of CSN.

Ronny Brizan, the treasurer of the Caribbean Student Network, described Melendez as “…one of the most passionate, organized, and determined leaders I know. She constantly works hard and plans every event to perfection.” 

But to Melendez, CSN is the community it is, because of the E-board as a whole.

“In a sense, it feels like we’re a bunch of siblings…but in the end, I am eternally grateful for them because if I had a different e-board I wouldn’t have been able to do it… My success as a president is only so good because of the people I had around me,” she said.

As Melendez prepares to depart with Suffolk, she reflected on her four years growing as a leader in her community.

“Suffolk’s really focused on building a community, not just a community I can fit into but communities that everyone can fit into,” said Melendez.

Melendez knew she wanted to attend law school going into Suffolk, and attributes her time and experiences here to building the confidence needed to pursue this higher education. Not only that but Melendez has aspirations now exceeding law school. 

“Being president of this organization made me be like, ‘I think I could get elected as President of the United States,’” she said laughing.

As an actively involved student and inclusive leader, Melendez has some advice for Suffolk, “Don’t get rid of the Black Studies program, give more money to our student organizations to be able to put on great events. Listen to the students.”

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