Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez is a native of Youngstown, Ohio.

Melissa entered the United States Navy upon graduating high school. She attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, where she became a fluent Russian language speaker.

Melissa then became one of the first women approved by the U.S. Navy to fly aboard EP- 3 reconnaissance aircraft overseas, conducting reconnaissance and intelligence gathering operations. She served her country with honor and distinction as a Russian translator for ten years during the height of the Cold War, and flew covert missions during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. While serving in the Navy, she received numerous awards for her strategic acumen, operational insight, professionalism, and impeccable leadership skills.

While serving in the Navy full-time, Melissa also attended college full-time in the evenings, and received her BA in History and Political Studies from Chaminade University in Honolulu, Hawaii.