Posted on Jan 8, 2021 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News
Throughout the month of January, we’re highlighting Jayhawk alumni who serve as mentors to fellow alumni and students.
Mercedes Bounthapanya earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics in 2018 and works as a diversity, equity and inclusion coordinator for KU’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. As a student, Mercedes worked as a career center specialist, peer advisor, and a peer educator for the Office of Multicultural Affairs. She was also a member of Sigma Psi Zeta sorority.
Mercedes was honored with several awards during her time as a student, including the Woman Student in Leadership Award, Mary Townsend Award, and the Rusty Leffel Concerned Student Award.
As a mentor, Mercedes can assist students with diversity and inclusion, racial, gender and sexual identity in the workplace, workplace issues and more. She has extensive customer service experience and is interested in social justice, gender equity, and anti-black rhetoric.
How did you end up at KU?
KU was one of my top choices when looking at colleges. I wanted to go to KU because it is the flagship school of Kansas, and as a first-generation student, graduating from KU would be a huge accomplishment for me as well as my family. I also enjoyed KU basketball growing up, so when I was accepted it became a no brainer that I’d attend!
What do you do at your job?
I am a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at KU. I provide support to marginalized students and also assist with communications and outreach for the College Dean’s Office!
Who is a mentor to you? How have they helped you?
One of my mentors is my former boss, Nicole Hodges Persley. She helped me gain confidence in the work I do, and reminded me that I am worthy of the goals I set.
Most, if not all, of my mentors validated my work and believed in me, and that pushed me to continue improving myself! Having someone believe in you really makes a world of a difference.
Need a mentor? Want to serve as a mentor? KU Mentoring is open to students, alumni, faculty and staff, and friends of the University of Kansas. Professionals who are looking for opportunities to connect with KU and provide assistance to Jayhawks are also welcome. Learn more about KU Mentoring.