For Ball State’s new student trustee, service, culture and diversity remain important as she takes on her position among the Board of Trustees.

Rebeca Mena, junior chemistry and Spanish major, was announced by Gov. Eric Holcomb as the new student trustee in June.

“Being a student trustee for me is being a bridge between the board and the students,” Mena said. “I do believe this is serious business. We’re talking about more than 22,000 students.”

Mena, was born in Richmond, Virginia, and raised in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. She attended university for dentistry in Venezuela, but after the country’s economic crisis and repeated closures of the university, she moved to Muncie to live with her godparents and attend Ball State.

“I feel like I’m just as much from Indiana as from Venezuela,” Mena said. “I was raised in a place, I was born in another place, but I was received in this place.”

She said service was “highly important” to her and feels she's “bringing a different perspective” by being part of the Board of Trustees.

Mena said she wants to serve on the diversity and cultural side of things in her position.

“Muncie and Indiana are growing so much in diversity that actually being part of this just makes a huge difference,” she said.

She said some donors might consider having more diversity as a requirement when deciding whether to donate to a university — “diversity not only in color, but in ideas and or ideals.”

Being from a STEM discipline, Mena said she would like to see the addition of arts in STEM disciplines to emphasize the importance of social service.

“I can’t wait until I graduate to give back. This position allows me to start giving back to Ball State even without graduating. That for me is just amazing.”

She said being part of the board and interacting with its members from various backgrounds will give her an opportunity to grow and experiences that would help her in the future.

Mary Konkle, assistant professor of chemistry and Ball State alumna, recommended Mena to apply for the position of student trustee because she and her colleagues felt Mena was “the right choice.”

“Several people saw that position because of her unique experience … and also just being a little older as well,” Konkle said. “She has a huge genuine heart for other people and works really hard to make sure they get the help needed. All those aspects sort of fit what I thought would be a good student trustee.”

She said Mena’s work as a Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) research scholar and peer mentor shows the support she gives to other students younger than her.

Konkle said Mena’s background enables her to “take experiences from different people, combine them and communicate their needs to the Board of Trustees,” which she said was what a student trustee should do.

“I’m really excited that the institution and the state chose to pick a student with such an interesting and unique perspective because I think she can both hear the majority but also voice for the minority,” Konkle said.

Mena will serve in her position until June 30, 2021.

Contact Rohith Rao with comments at rprao@bsu.edu or on Twitter @RaoReports.