• Six Multicultural Affairs for Students staff sitting in front of the WMU seal.
  • 14 Multicultural Affairs for Students staff standing in the hallway of Sangren Hall.

Our Team

(All photos on this page taken by Daniela De La Cruz or Rodney Coleman-Robinson.)

Melissa Holman

Melissa Holman (she/her/hers)

Director

Connectedness, Restorative, Activator, Communication, Individualization

Melissa Holman

What I do at WMU: 
I make sure students have what they need to develop, discover, and thrive during their time at WMU. Through working with a wonderful team who provides services to students through a number of grants and programs, I support student's holistic success.

Why I love working here: 
I love seeing students win!

My alma mater, degrees, and certifications: 

  • Ferris State University, communication with a concentration in multicultural relations in the United States
  • Western Michigan University, educational leadership: higher education student affairs
  • Certifications: Gallup CliftonStrengths, life coaching with guidelines that follow the International Federation of Coaches protocol

When I'm not at work, you'll find me...
Hanging out with friends. I love movies. I love laughing.

A few things about me:
I'm left handed. :) I love having natural hair. Summer is my favorite season.

Ashley Bravo

Ashley Bravo (she/her/hers)

Associate Director, Director of CAMP

Empathy, Relator, Developer, Learner, Responsibility

Ashley Bravo

What I do at WMU: 
At WMU, I ensure that students are well-prepared academically and personally to build a strong foundation for themselves. I do this by connecting students to resources on campus and serving as an advocate for them when they are unsure how to navigate all that comes with transitioning into university life. I also help students set goals for themselves as leaders and professionals. In addition, I prepare reports and monitor student retention and persistence towards degree attainment. I am here for students to know that they have someone who understands their challenges and that they are not alone at the university. I am here to help eliminate any barriers that may stand in the way of graduation.

Why I love working here: 
I love working here because I know what I do makes a difference in the lives of the students. Oftentimes students see higher education as something far from their reach, but I love knowing that what I do helps them get an education and makes their time here a little bit easier because they have someone to turn to when in need.

My favorite thing about living in Kalamazoo or Southwest Michigan: 
My favorite thing about living in Kalamazoo is that there are a lot of things to do and many places are open late. I also like that Kalamazoo has options in the surrounding areas, such as the beach. It also reminds me of my hometown in Illinois, so I feel at home.

My alma mater, degrees, and certifications: 
My alma mater is Western Michigan University. Here I earned a bachelor's degree in science and majored in biomedical sciences with a minor in chemistry. I am currently working on obtaining my Master of Public Health.

When I'm not at work, you'll find me...
At the gym, outside, at a cafe/bookstore or the library working on homework, or at the beach/pool with a good book.

A few things about me:
I am Mexican-American and my family is from Michoacan, Mexico. I enjoy watching movies and crafting! I have been to Mexico, Ireland, and Portugal.

Cesar Briones

César Briones (he/him/his)

Navigation Specialist

Input, Context, Connectedness, Learner, Maximizer

What I do at WMU: 
As a navigation specialist, I see myself as I am an advocate for Hispanic/Latino students. I connect them with resources, services, and programs throughout WMU to help them succeed in their college experience.

Why I love working here: 
Working here allows me the opportunity to work with students who need the most help. Their success is our success. For me, there is nothing greater to contribute to the collective good.

My favorite thing about living in Kalamazoo or Southwest Michigan: 
Kalamazoo is a small but cozy town; it gives a nice vibe of familiarity and is very welcoming. I also love that in Michigan, you can appreciate all 4 seasons in all their beauty, and having so many lakes around is simply unbeatable. Another thing that I love about Kalamazoo is the amount and diversity of craft breweries; as a homebrewer, Southwest Michigan is the place to be!

My alma mater, degrees, and certifications: 
I've been around here and there. I received my B.S. in psychology and my M.S. in clinical and health psychology from the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN). I earned my M.A. in counseling psychology from WMU as a Fulbright Scholar, and I am completing my Ph.D. in youth and community development also at WMU.

When I'm not at work, you'll find me...
During summer, you'll find me riding my motorcycle all around Michigan and recording my travels with my GoPro. I have a couple of hobbies like fishkeeping and aquascaping, so I'll be looking for the next addition to my fish tanks. I like to go to the gym, and I spend time reading mostly political philosophy and geopolitical world developments. Oh, I looove spending time with my cats: Tigre and Lava. 

My community connections:
El Concilio, Fulbright West and Mid-Michigan Chapter, and Kalamazoo Nonviolent Opponents of War.

A few things about me:
I am very sociable and outgoing, so I'm always up for a chat. I am Nicaraguan through and through, but I was actually born in the Soviet Union in the late 80's in what is now modern Kyiv, Ukraine. I went to elementary school in Montreal, Canada; that's why I LOVE poutine. I have hiked several active and inactive volcanoes and done "volcano boarding" in an active one. While working at the Nicaraguan Police, I won 2nd place in a shooting competition with AK-47. I once backpacked from Iceland to Ukraine. Finally, I'm a full biker. I love motorcycles, and I cannot envision my life without one.

Vun Doubblestein

Vun Doubblestein 邱文欣 (she/her/hers)

Associate Director, Director of Mentoring for Success Program

Input, Connectedness, Intellection, Learner, Relator

Vun Doubblestein

What I do at WMU: 
I oversee a state grant-funded peer mentoring program in Multicultural Affairs for Students. As the director of the Mentoring for Success Program, I develop, plan, and implement programs and services for students in our target populations. I also recruit, select, train, and supervise a staff that includes program assistants, budget analyst, academic mentors, office assistants, and graduate interns. In addition to my role as program director, I manage our department's websites and social media accounts. I am the advisor of the Asian Pacific American Student Association at WMU, and have been since 2007, when it was known as the Asian Pacific Islander Network and later Asian Pacific Student Association.

Why I love working here: 
The small but tight-knit Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) student population on campus. My student employees.

My favorite thing about living in Kalamazoo or Southwest Michigan: 
Kalamazoo gives off small-town vibes but is close enough to big cities like Chicago and Detroit when you're looking for more things to do. There is a small but growing list of local restaurants here with vegan options.

My alma mater, degrees, and certifications: 
I am a three-time WMU graduate! I earned the following degrees from WMU:

  • Ph.D. in educational leadership: higher education
  • M.A. in counselor education: administration of college student affairs
  • B.A. in communication, cum laude

When I'm not at work, you'll find me...
At home, spending time alone to recharge.

My community connections:
I serve on the board of directors of the Kalamazoo Chinese Academy and I am a team member of KCA's STARTALK federal grant program funded by the National Security Agency and administered by the National Foreign Language Center. I am also a member of the Asian American Affinity Group, which is a part of Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) Kalamazoo, hosted by the Kalamazoo Community Foundation.

A few things about me:
I am an introvert and I do not enjoy crowds, but I do love traveling and connecting with people on my own terms. I am vegan for the animals. I love reading, particularly legal thrillers and books about the Asian American experience. I enjoy music in any language, from any era, and in any genre or style. If you stumble upon my playlist, you might be very confused. I speak conversational Chinese (Cantonese, Hakka, and Mandarin) but am only semi-literate in written Chinese. I also speak rudimentary Malay. I am a first-generation college student and a first-generation immigrant. I am a walking encyclopedia of random facts but am not good at playing trivia.

Jordan Johnson

Jordan Johnson (he/him/his)

Navigation Specialist

Strategic, Restorative, Responsibility, Developer, Connectedness

What I do at WMU: 
I ensure that students are provided resources to assist them in navigating their educational and social career at WMU. By collaborating with various departments and organizations on campus, I am able to connect students with appropriate services and tools to help them achieve goals.

Why I love working here: 
WMU provides such a welcoming environment and being able to work here allows me to pour the same love I received back into the students and employees.

My favorite thing about living in Kalamazoo or Southwest Michigan: 
I love the small-town sense of community.

My alma mater, degrees, and certifications: 
B.A, M.A., and Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) all from WMU.

When I'm not at work, you'll find me...
At the farmers market. I am a local business owner and have a booth at the local market.

My community connections:
Boy's and Girls Club, Big Brother Big Sisters

A few things about me:
I am from Detroit, Michigan, and moved to Kalamazoo in 2012 to attend WMU, where I received my B.A. in interpersonal communications and M.A. in communications. I love R&B music a lot. I am also very much into anime (my favorite is Naruto).

Jose Alexis Mejia

Jose Alexis Mejia (he/him/his)

Coordinator of Outreach and Recruitment, CAMP

Restorative, Individualization, Connectedness, Ideation, Arranger

Jose Alexis Mejia

What I do at WMU: 
I currently work with the CAMP program serving our scholars.

Why I love working here: 
I love getting to meet new students and hearing their stories! As a first-generation college student, I share so many similarities to the responsibility we carry. I am a WMU alum and I also recently started grad school.

My favorite thing about living in Kalamazoo or Southwest Michigan: 
The different towns you can see and culture from each town! I was raised in Hartford, Mich.

My alma mater, degrees, and certifications: 
Bachelor of Science in public health from Western Michigan University. Currently pursuing my Master of Arts in youth and community development.

When I'm not at work, you'll find me...
With the Guille Records Family! And with my nephews and family.

My community connections:
El Concilio, Migrant Resource Council, and Guille Records.

A few things about me:
I love music; I love playing the piano and song writing. They call me the King of FIFA and I love to watch sports!

Sue Murray

Sue Murray (she/her/hers)

Associate Director, Director of MLK Academy

Intellection, Input, Restorative, Achiever, Learner

Sue Murray

What I do at WMU: 
I work with students who receive the MLK G.O.L.D. Scholarship and facilitate their transition from high school to college, and I help them matriculate to graduation through services and support.

Why I love working here: 
I love working with students.

My favorite thing about living in Kalamazoo or Southwest Michigan: 
I love living in a small town. Kalamazoo is just the right size for me.

My alma mater, degrees, and certifications: 
Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice and Master of Arts in family and consumer sciences from WMU.

When I'm not at work, you'll find me...
At home enjoying my house. I love to read (I am very active with my book club), watch movies (the more eclectic the better), and listen to music. I am obsessed with snowmen and bumble bees!

My community connections:
I am affiliated with a few organizations throughout Kalamazoo.

A few things about me:
I love reading, music, and movies. I love the stories that come from all of these experiences. I also have so many books that I have a checkout system and a stamp to mark my books when people want to borrow them.

Abosede Odukoya

Abosede Odukoya (she/her/hers)

Graduate Assistant, Kalamazoo Promise

Adaptability, Woo, Communication, Maximizer, Empathy

Abosede Odukoya

What I do at WMU: 
Graduate assistant for Kalamazoo Promise

Why I love working here: 
I love being part of a team that does its best to make sure scholars retain in school and are successful in their educational pursuits. The welcoming and friendly environment.

My favorite thing about living in Kalamazoo or Southwest Michigan: 
Friendly people. Neat environment and the diversity in Kalamazoo makes me feel at home.

My alma mater, degrees, and certifications: 
University of Sunderland United Kingdom - Bachelor of Arts in business management

When I'm not at work, you'll find me...
At home binge watching movies. 

My community connections:
Bronco African Students Association (BASA).

A few things about me:
I am easygoing and friendly. I love cooking!

Kemmel Palmer

Kemmel Palmer (he/him/his)

Graduate Assistant, Community Mentoring Program

Harmony, Deliberative, Focus, Analytical, Futuristic

What I do at WMU:
I'm doctoral student in the counselor education and supervision program here at WMU.

Why I love working here:
The diversity and supportive working atmosphere.

My favorite thing about living in Kalamazoo or Southwest Michigan:
It has many outdoor activities during the summer months, and lots of sporting events all year round.

My alma mater, degrees, and certifications:
Bachelor's and master's degree in counseling psychology from WMU.

When I'm not at work, you'll find me...
Playing soccer with my friends, listening to live music.

My community connections:
Kalamazoo Public Schools

A few things about me:
I am hard working, determined, intrinsically driven, and goal oriented.

Hannah Powless

Hannah Powless (he/him/his)

Program Coordinator, Mentoring for Success 

Learner, Intellection, Input, Context, Discipline 

Hannah Powless

What I do at WMU: 
I serve as a program coordinator in the Mentoring for Success Program. I work with student employees to help deliver mentoring and tutoring to students in our target populations. I also work extensively on our grant reporting documentation.

Why I love working here: 
The people you meet are so kind and welcoming. Each program is important and that gives real meaning and weight to the work. 

My favorite thing about living in Kalamazoo or Southwest Michigan: 
I love the Kalamazoo Public Library! Moving here from a small town made me star stuck for the resources that a large library system can offer. I try to visit every weekend.

My alma mater, degrees, and certifications: 
My alma mater is Western Michigan University! I have my B.A. in gender and women’s studies and communication studies. 

When I'm not at work, you'll find me...
At summer camp! I am a lifelong camper at a youth summer camp in Van Buren County where I now serve as the assistant director. 

A few things about me:
I am a very big reader with a special interest in middle grade youth literature. My honor’s thesis for undergrad included completing a manuscript of a contemporary middle grade novel. When I’m not reading or writing, I enjoy spending time building complicated Lego sets or crocheting while watching the same three shows on repeat. I love listening to live choral and instrumental music and I have been a member of many bands and choirs throughout the years.

Jessica Rocha-Garcia

Jessica Rocha-Garcia (she/her/hers)

Administrative Assistant, CAMP

Harmony, Empathy, Restorative, Responsibility, Discipline

Jessica Rocha-Garcia

What I do at WMU: 
I provide clerical support to the College Assistance Migrant Program, as well as to Multicultural Affairs for Students.

Why I love working here: 
I love working here because I am part of a team with which I am comfortable and compatible. Another reason I love working here is because I am encouraged to succeed by being given the tools, mentorship, and resources to grow professionally and personally. I also love being able to help students who come from migrant farmworker backgrounds and being able to lend a helping hand to those who were once in my shoes. There is no greater feeling than being able to help out your community.

My favorite thing about living in Kalamazoo or Southwest Michigan: 
My favorite thing about Kalamazoo is how diverse the restaurants are. There are many kinds of restaurants from different cultures, so there is always something new to try.

My alma mater, degrees, and certifications: 
Western Michigan University, Bachelor of Social Work. Currently pursuing my Master in Social Work.

When I'm not at work, you'll find me...
You will find me at TJMaxx, Target, or Starbucks, and if not there, then I am at home binge watching a Netflix show.

A few things about me:
I was raised in Zeeland, Mich. but I was born in South Haven, Mich. I recently obtained my B.S.W. from WMU and am starting graduate school in hopes to graduate with my M.S.W. in spring of 2024. 

Tim Smolenski

Tim Smolenski (he/him/his)

Navigation Specialist

Positivity, Includer, Woo, Developer, Empathy

Tim Smolenski

What I do at WMU: 
I am an advocate for Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) and Native American students and connect them with services and programs throughout WMU.

Why I love working here: 
The opportunity to be a difference maker and make an impact on a student's life.

My favorite thing about living in Kalamazoo or Southwest Michigan: 
So. Many. Activities! I am an outdoor enthusiast and I love that we have parks, trails, nature centers, lakes, rivers, campgrounds, disc golf courses, a fish hatchery, and even a zoo to name a few! And let's not forget about Lake Michigan!

My alma mater, degrees, and certifications: 
My alma mater is Western Michigan University. I earned a bachelor's degree in arts and majored in sociology with a minor in marketing.

When I'm not at work, you'll find me...
Spending time with my family.

A few things about me:
I am a Korean adoptee. I am an extrovert who gets my energy from being around others. I love playing disc golf, making maple syrup in the springtime and playing music. I also love playing hockey and try to use GIFs as much as possible. I once appeared on a Wendy's restaurant coupon and have won over 20 prizes from calling into radio stations, one of which includes a personalized platinum record!

Navia Walker

Navia Walker (she/her/hers)

Graduate Assistant, Kalamazoo Promise 

Empathy, Individualization, Strategic, Relator, Responsibility

Navia Walker

What I do at WMU: 
I serve as one of the Kalamazoo Promise graduate assistants in the Multicultural Affairs for Students department.

Why I love working here: 
I was a recipient of the Kalamazoo Promise, so I love being able to work closely with students from Kalamazoo. While we all come from different backgrounds and life experiences, we all have the common experience of being from Kalamazoo and attending KPS schools. I also have some really awesome co-workers!

My favorite thing about living in Kalamazoo or Southwest Michigan: 
Diverse community, and the city is the perfect size for me. It's not in any way a small town, but it's also not a ginormous city; it's somewhere in the middle for me, which I love.

My alma mater, degrees, and certifications: 
I received my bachelor's degree from WMU in the summer of 2021. Then, with a very quick turn around, I started my journey in the CECP (marriage, couple, and family counseling) master's program in the fall of 2021. I am now in my second year of this program.

When I'm not at work, you'll find me...
At Waldo library, in class, or sitting on my couch at home!

A few things about me:
I have two cats, Theodore and Sasha, who I absolutely adore!