Melanie Clarke (BA’06) channels the leadership skills she honed as an all-star member of Dal’s soccer team to a fulfilling career in workplace resolution and Black wellness — and into overcoming cancer.

By Thomas Scott

Melanie Clarke stands smiling with her arm leaning on a tall tabletop at an event.Former Dal Tigers soccer player Melanie Clarke (BA’06) will deliver the keynote address at the Women in Leadership Spotlight Dinner presented by RBC on November 30 at the Dalhousie Student Union Building.

Clarke played on the women’s soccer team for five years and received AUS First Team All-Star honours twice.

“It means a lot to me to be able to speak at this event and go back and contribute in any way possible. I have a lot of strong women in my life that I met at Dalhousie through sport,” says the Charlottetown, P.E.I. native. “Sport has given me so much in my life. I want to inspire people to stay in sport and to give back to it.”

Clarke, who studied political science at Dal, is now a workplace resolution consultant with the Province of Nova Scotia, and she continues to use her leadership skills.

“It’s all teams and departments. It all comes down to how my team functions, which is so applicable in sport. You learn all of these things when you play sport,” says the founding member of the Black Wellness Co-Operative.

Improving health in the Black community

The Black Wellness Co-Operative is a collective of health, wellness and fitness professionals who promote the importance of health and the right to good health for the Black community.

Clarke says just as she looked to her teammates and coaches to guide her through her first years of university, she’s now able to offer that same sort of support to her community and family.

“I’m still taking those things that I’ve learned from them and I’m applying it in the work that I do now and my family life,” says Clarke. “It’s touched everything I do. Even the tough experiences I found have made me a better leader.”

Cancer diagnosis

In 2018, Clarke discovered she had breast cancer months after the birth of her son.

“I never anticipated to be faced with the thought of death at such a young age,” says Clarke. “It really shows you how to embrace life.”

Not knowing how many days she had left, Clarke spent it doing what she loved. She invested in the people she loves and the community that supports her.

“It [cancer] showed me the meaning of community because I couldn’t have got through it without them,” says Clarke, who added the sports community took care of her during her battle with cancer.

Unsure if she would be able to see her children grow up, Clarke wanted to ensure her story was shared.

“I wanted my kids to know my story if I didn’t make it through. I wanted them to know because there was no way my son would have remembered anything from being a one-year-old or two-year-old if he lost me,” says Clarke. “I just wanted to put my story out there so that he knew where mom was.”

Women in Leadership Spotlight Dinner

On November 30, Dalhousie will recognize the role women like Clarke play in leading communities.

“It’s hard to try to pave your own path. Women in leadership are so important because they’ve paved the path, they’re there, the representation is there,” says Clarke. “I feel like oftentimes with any sort of minority or marginalized group, the best thing about it is that they always turn around and give back.”

Get event details and ticket availability for the Women in Leadership Spotlight Dinner.