Alumni & Transition Coordinator
Mercedes was born in Bremerton, WA but was raised in Chicago. She is a proud graduate of the Chicago Public School system, and a first generation college graduate. Mercedes sought out work that would specifically align to college readiness and support, which led her to become a Student Advocate role with the Gear Up program through Northeastern Illinois University’s Center for College Academic & Success. Mercedes also served as a Director for the Boys and Girls Club, overseeing schools on Chicago’s South and Northside. In her roles, she has collaborated with other leaders on community outreach efforts in order to plan and facilitate educational and character-building programming. Additionally her leadership in these positions enhanced, developed, and maintained public relations to increase the visibility of programs, services, and activities within schools and the community.
In her free time, Mercedes enjoys reading, cleaning, and spending time with her family.
What is your favorite place in the world and why?
My favorite place is my grandparents house. My grandparents raised me and I love the comfort and warmth they bring to my life.
Who do you admire most and why?
I admire my grandfather the most. My grandfather came to Chicago with a 6th grade education, and nothing else. However, he still managed to provide for my family and myself.
What has been your greatest adventure?
My greatest adventure was traveling abroad to teach 4th grade in Copan Ruinas, Honduras. My experience in the classroom, while teaching 4th grade abroad in Honduras, helped me to become independent in a country where I did not know the native language. I learned through the lens of my students, who weren't always comfortable communicating but found ways to be resourceful.
What are you passionate about?
I firmly believe college access is possible for all students when multifaceted supports are provided early on. It is my mission to make sure students have access to these things; by providing choice, and supporting students with finding the best school to match their interest and needs. I have overcome transitional obstacles in both high school and college and it is important to me to offer students stability in the education system.
Who was your favorite teacher and why?
My favorite teacher was my 7th/8th grade math teacher, Mr. Stalla. Mr. Stalla taught me what it means to put students first. His ability and insight to connect outside barriers into the classroom, positively influenced the way she carried herself. His constant dedication to stay after school, come early, and assist in extracurricular activities outside of the classroom truly taught me how to become involved.