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Breaking Down Walls For Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion


By Sheryl E. Taylor

When it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion, there is no time to waste.

This is the ever-so passionate sentiment of UHD’s Adilene “Adi” Mendoza.

“I want to be part of the solution, not the problem,” said the Texas native. “I want to break down the walls of discrimination and ignorance in the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) arena. I’m constantly blown away by how individuals’ rights are being stripped away through legislation.”

The senior in the College of Humanities & Social Sciences (CHSS) will graduate this December with a Bachelor of Social Sciences degree and a minor in Public Policy & Administration. “I plan to pursue a Master of Public Administration in 2023,” said the 33-year-old. “Taking the theories, notably in Public Policy, that I learned in the classroom and putting them into practice is my ultimate goal.”

Her immense interest in the nonprofit sector was motivated in part by her volunteer experience with the HAUS (Houston Access to Urban Sustainability) Project, where she learned how to implement sustainability approaches in the community. HAUS is a non-profit cooperative that provides affordable, sustainable, cooperative housing in the urban core of the Houston region.P1016257

Mendoza credits UHD with her success, solidifying her community-driven passions, and the close-knit community it offers. “I gained so much knowledge from my professors and mentors throughout my undergraduate studies, and of course, UHD’s dedication to DEI is inspiring,” she said.

“Dr. Franklin Emeka's class on Social Inequality has been my favorite,” added Mendoza. “I believe it was crucial to understanding the modern world and the forces that have shaped it. Coming to terms with the wrongs of inequality is essential for overcoming it, mending old wounds, promoting social solidarity, and establishing a more equitable society.”

The first-generation Gator is the recipient of the highest academic honor by making the Dean’s List for four consecutive years. She also earned the CHSS Continuing Undergraduate Student Scholarship and the William V. Flores & Noel Bezette-Flores Family Community Engagement Scholarship. Her next stop is graduate school for a Master of Public Administration.

After earning her undergraduate and graduate degrees, Mendoza’s career trajectory is to become part of an organization that advocates for human rights.

And in the next five years? Part of her answer may surprise you.

“I aspire to become a land nymph by expanding my garden into a food forest, allowing me to be completely self-sufficient at home,” said the self-described tenacious spirit. “Professionally, I want to use the knowledge from my UHD education and experience to support our communities. Fighting for rights, especially for those of us who coexist at the confluence of marginalized identities and backgrounds, will always be my lifelong mission.”

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.