“I just want to make an impact,” said Kendalyn Mack, as a bright smile flashes across her face.
The community health junior says being able to touch the lives of students on campus is her calling, but it took a lot of self-discovery for her to realize that.
Mack has the distinction of being the very first presidential intern to serve under President Joseph I.Castro. As the liaison between the Office of the President and the student body on campus, Mack serves as a key connection in bridging accessibility to the highest office on campus.
For the Compton native, an opportunity to work with the University president was something she didn’t think was possible. At first, she hesitated to even fill out the application.
“I did not think that it would be something that I was ready for. I did not think that it was my place to work with the president,” Mack said. “I guess I didn’t dream that big.”
Out of thirty applicants and a series of interviews, Mack came out on top among the talented roster of students. She officially began her term at the beginning of the spring semester.
“I am really focused on the students and academic success,” Mack said. “That is kind of my passion – mentoring and encouraging students. I just want to make the most out of this opportunity and really touch people.”
Mack’s road to higher education would not have been possible without the guidance of those that led the way for her, including high school mentors and counselors. She faced a series of challenges, including a bout with homelessness, before finding herself in the Central Valley – a place she is proud to call her home.
It’s where she’s embraced opportunity at Fresno State, joining numerous clubs and organizations on campus, including Black Students United, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., as well as participation in the Educational Opportunity Program’s Summer Bridge and the Emerging Leaders Retreat, through Student Involvement.
“Fresno State has so many resources, so many programs, so many things for you to do,” Mack said. “I love Fresno State! I was not always active, but becoming active was one of the best decisions of my life.”
In fact, being active on campus led to her chance meeting with President Castro, and it all started on Twitter nonetheless.
“I think I was actually complaining about something,” Mack said, with a laugh.” I tweeted President Castro and he responded back to me. I was so shocked. Of course, I had more positive experiences, so I would tag President Castro and he would retweet it. It was just amazing. From that moment on, I knew he was just more interactive with the students.”
Mack’s admiration for the president increased after she began working closely with him on community-based projects and on-campus events.
“Dr. Castro is very busy,” Mack said. “But even for someone who is so busy, he has been able to exemplify that he is someone who cares and listens. So him, pulling me on board, saying ‘hey, why don’t you be the intern?,’ shows that.”
Having an involved University president and a supportive staff on campus is just one of the many reasons why Mack is proud to be a bulldog.
“70 percent of us are first-generation students and we need the resources. We need help,” Mack said. “Through every organization, program and workshop on campus, Fresno State is exemplifying that its focus is to improve the students, not only in professionalism, but in their personal success as well.”
Mack’s deep-rooted passion for serving others has helped guide her into the public health field. When her father went through chemotherapy treatments for lung cancer, she saw firsthand how a healthy mindset makes all the difference in the healing process.
“I have a strong passion with helping others, so why not make it my career,” she said of her major. “I would like to be someone who encourages people to make healthy lifestyles and decisions for their mind, body and spirit, to address disease and dysfunction as a whole, instead of just in the affected areas. I think that it is very important to not just treat what is hurting and bothering you, but to assess your whole self and make decisions that improve your life.”
Mack, expected to graduate in spring 2018, aspires to be a health education specialist with an emphasis in holistic health. Having the opportunity to help people improve their lives brings her a wealth of satisfaction.
“It makes me happy,” Mack said enthusiastically. “I feel joy in my heart when someone says ‘that really helped me’ or ‘I feel so much better.’ It’s like I did what I was supposed to do today. Someone is living a better life – of clarity, understanding and happiness. Whatever it may be, my goal is to spread optimism, happiness and just be positive.”