Sharon Ivey Richie-Melvan grew up in the projects of Philadelphia. She won seats at two highly selective public magnet schools, laying the foundation for her success in Wagner’s nursing program. Matriculating in 1967, Sharon was known on campus as a leader, representing Black Concern as Wagner’s first African-American homecoming queen in 1969. The following year, she was part of the student group that occupied Cunard Hall, pushing the College to become a healthier, more inclusive institution.
Richie-Melvan went to boot camp for Army nurses after graduating Wagner in 1971. From day one, she felt at home among that family of warriors. In 1982, she became the first military nurse named as a White House Fellow. Richie-Melvan served in one leadership role after another throughout her Army career, including a stint as chief nurse for the Army Recruiting Command, visiting nursing schools across the nation to offer students the same opportunity that had started her on a highly rewarding military career. Over the years, 15 of those nursing recruits have made her the godmother of their children. Richie-Melvan served in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps for 25 years, rising to the rank of full colonel — at the time, the youngest officer of that rank in the entire Army.
Since leaving the U.S. Army, Richie-Melvan has worked as a consultant. One of her clients was the United Arab Emirates, which asked her to help upgrade its military health services. She has co-authored a book, Angel Walk: Nurses at War in Iraq and Afghanistan, that was inspired by a column she writes for the newsletter of the Army Nurse Corps Association. She serves on the boards of several nonprofits, including the Military Officers Association of America and Excelsior College, SUNY’s distance-learning arm.
The Wagner College Alumni Association honored Richie-Melvan in 1983 with the Alumna of the Year award, and named her a 2010 Distinguished Graduate of Wagner College. Read more about Col. (R) Sharon Riche-Melvan ’71, Ph.D.