UC Merced employees have established themselves here in every way during the last several years, including giving their time and expertise to community organizations. Several employees serve prominently in some of Merced's most vital service groups.
Vice Chancellor for Administration Mary Miller presides over the United Way of Merced County as a board member. “United Way raises money for local charities, provides volunteer service to local agencies and events, and sponsors local events,” she said. “It's an umbrella organization designed to make Merced County better.” Miller previously served as president of a United Way chapter in Texas.
Other employees have also logged years of service with their chosen organizations. UC Merced Centers Director Brandy Ramos Nikaido has been involved with the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium since 2000 and now chairs its marketing and public relations committee.
“A solid education gives people the foundation and options for a better quality of life,” Nikaido said. “By being involved with CVHEC, I have had the pleasure of working with students, leaders and others who are committed to improving college-going rates in our Valley community.”
Jim Genes, special assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Administration, began in the early 80s advocating for river systems through Friends of the River. He's served on the board since 2005.
“The mission statement of Friends of the River is to protect and restore California's rivers by informing public policy and inspiring citizen action,” Genes explained. “Both those elements appeal to me as a way to make positive change.”
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Business and Financial Services (BFS) Monir Ahmed and Director of BFS Systems Yaheya Quazi are among the employees who helped found Family and Community Circle, an organization building connections among between Merced's Muslims and other religious and cultural groups.
“It gives me pleasure to get the community to talk, to find out the need of families - especially the younger generation who may be struggling to cope with different cultures, languages and belief systems,” Quazi said.
Ahmed also sits on the board of Healthy House, which helps improve cross-cultural communication in health care. “We can attain and sustain a cohesive, cosmopolitan community by continuing to educate ourselves about the diverse nature of our residents,” Ahmed said.
Another BFS employee, accountant Pam Taylor, serves as a regional director for Soroptimist International, a service organization focused on improving life for women and girls.
“We have helped hundreds of nursing students at Merced College with scholarships, to name just one of our many projects,” Taylor said. Soroptimist also recognizes young women who serve in their communities and actively works to halt sex trafficking worldwide.
Many more employees serve the community than can be mentioned here. All their work harmonizes with the big picture for UC Merced.
“We're in the business of making a difference,” Miller said, “whether it be through the research of the faculty, the education of the future leaders of society, or through service to others - our threefold mission.”