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Faces of Fort Cavazos: Sara Melendez is taking her love of dance and Navy service to a new career

Faces of Fort Cavazos: Sara Melendez
Posted at 6:13 PM, Jan 17, 2024

KILLEEN, Texas — Being physically fit is a big part of military service and for a lot service members, it is a passion.

Sara Melendez is a proud Navy veteran, student, and fitness instructor at Texas A&M Central Texas.

For her, the Lone Star State is home now but her story begins in Northern California in the small town of Paradise.

”It was great,” Melendez said.

“It’s a tiny town so everybody knew each other. I got to dance most of the time.”

From a very young age, dancing is all she wanted to do.

The fuel for that fire came straight from home.

”My mom always liked to dance,” Melendez said.

“I grew up in a musical family. So, my dad was actually a drummer, and my mom was a singer and they met in a band. So, my whole life was just music growing up.”

That is until something clicked after the loss of her grandparents, who earned military honors at their funerals.

She went on to serve four years as a Navy corpsman before becoming a student and fitness instructor at Texas A&M Central Texas.

“I love seeing other people exceed and helping them out,” Melendez said.

“That just goes into me dance fitness classes and the goal of wanting to become a physical therapist.”

Her coworkers say she is perfect for physical therapy.

”We were really comfortable with her,” said Shaina Spence, fellow veteran and coworker.

“She was really welcoming and when she came into the staff, it was like she just fit right in.”

For now, Melendez will do what she can to keep her fellow students healthy by sharing her passion for dance.

”I think it’s the best way to exercise but I'm a little biased,” Melendez said.

Melendez says as a physical therapist, she plans to work with people of all ages and her fellow vets.

For her, it is a continuation of her service outside of the uniform.