Volunteer Profile: Diana Mendez (STEINHARDT ’07, SPS ’24)
May 20, 2022
“My work as a volunteer at NYU has strengthened my leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills that I have implemented into my day-to-day job in student affairs. By continuing to be involved in the NYU community, I have helped bring my experiences to folks who have similar backgrounds to mine,” says Diana Mendez (STEINHARDT ’07, SPS ’24) [she/her/ella], a proud immigrant, Latina, and first-generation student, who has brought a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and social justice lens to her award-winning work in higher education for 15 years.
As a published practitioner and presenter at multiple conferences, Diana’s key competencies include inclusive leadership and programming; staff training, development and onboarding; experiential learning, and relationship and event management. Currently, Diana serves as Associate Director for NYU Breakthrough Leadership Scholars at NYU’s Stern School of Business. She is also pursuing a Master’s Degree in Human Resources at NYU’s School of Professional Studies. She hopes to use this education to help bring greater equity, diversity, and equality to the workplace.
How did you first become involved as an NYU alumni volunteer?
Ever since I graduated from NYU, I knew I wanted to remain connected to such a wonderful community. During Grad Alley, I went straight to the alumni table to ask how I could get involved, and I learned about the Recent Alumni Network (RAN) and the different ways that I could volunteer. I became hooked and have never looked back!
Why do you stay involved with NYU? Why would you encourage other alumni—especially new grads—to get involved?
I love NYU, and I am its greatest ambassador. I love to give back to a school that has given so much to me, and I would encourage others to do the same. It is a great way to meet new people, go to cool events, and contribute to future alumni's sense of community and belonging.
What’s your proudest (or most fun) moment as an alumni volunteer?
I have always loved doing community service with NYU groups. I often participate in the Global Days of Service and volunteer extensively with the Latinx Alumni Network by distributing meals through Citymeals on Wheels. Before the pandemic, I was part of the leadership group that helped scout and select volunteering venues for different alumni groups.
Did you have any NYU classes or instructors who inspired or impacted you?
Dr. Michael Nina, who taught Career Counseling in the Mental Health and Wellness graduate program at Steinhardt, has been an inspiration in my life and career. He made me see how I could use my degree beyond the classroom to impact the lives of college students looking for meaningful careers.
What is a surprising way you’ve used your NYU education since graduating?
I have a Master’s in Mental Health and Wellness that I am not using for its intended purpose, meaning I am not a licensed mental health professional. I have worked in higher education/student affairs for 15 years, mostly in career services, but I have also done some work in academic advising and alumni relations. Most recently, I pivoted into leadership development and student success work at the Stern School of Business. I am a counselor by trade and by heart, and I feel like that has made me a better professional and better able to understand my students in a more meaningful way.
What is your favorite NYU memory?
My list of memories extends far and wide, from being in the last class to graduate at Washington Square Park (WSP) in 2007 to getting engaged at WSP through a flash mob. Other memories include working as a grad assistant at the Wasserman Center and seeing Spike Lee at an MLK event.
What is your favorite:
- Food? Colombian food (anything Colombian)
- Book? One Hundred Years of Solitude by the great Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- TV Show and/or Movie? TV Show: 30 Rock, Movie: Life is Beautiful or Encanto
- Song and/or Musical Artist? Favorite song: “My Way” by Frank Sinatra, Favorite artist: Juanes
- Place on NYU’s campus? Kimmel, but now that I work at Stern, I love Schwartz Plaza!
- Way to spend a spring day in NYC? A Broadway show or a museum, followed by drinking a frappuccino at any of the great parks in NYC.