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Women's History: Patrice Melnick

Overcoming fear and living life
Posted at 3:30 AM, Mar 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-13 08:47:58-04

Patrice Melnick has never been one to shy away from a challenge; she took chances at an early age.

Patrice Melnick

"I've been in situations, too, where I didn't really want leadership and it looked like things were moving on slowly and I became impatient," Melnick said. "I found myself moving groups forward in a certain way."

After years of traveling, Melnick found her way to Louisiana, it was the smooth sounds of Jazz that paved the way.

"I found work at a publishing company, and then I was listening to Zydeco and that drew me to this area...St. Landry Parish and Grand Coteau, where I live."

Melnick noticed that there was an opening for Director of the Opelousas Museum and Interpretative Center, and she thought, why not give it a shot.

"The one thing I have going for me is curiosity and a willingness to try and learn from other people," Melnick said. "I feel like I'm at my happiest when I'm learning new things. Learning keeps you alive and I just find it exciting."

During Covid, Melnick worked hard to revamp the museum and find ways to get people involved, even if they could not actually go inside of the building.

One of those first projects was Opelousas Neighborhoods.

"I think learning keeps you alive and I find it exciting," Melnick said.

The exhibits expanded as Covid restrictions loosened, Melnick wanted St. Landry Parish to feel like this was their museum and they had a say in what was showcased.

"I would like to see people in this community and share what they want to see in that exhibit. I want them to share what they want to see developed and included. That way it reflects people who live here. That is for people who have been here for many generations and those who are new here--I want to see how they want to be reflected, as well."

A transplant from Texas who made South Louisiana her home proves that if you take that leap of faith, there are limitless possibilities.