Eight Professionals Announced for 2022 Closing the Gap Cohort

ACUI has announced members of the 2022 Closing the Gap career advancement program cohort. The program was initiated in 2020 as an education and mentorship program focused on Black, Indigenous, and other professionals of color looking to advance into senior leadership roles. Participants and supporters engage in virtual gatherings, one-on-one meetings, and offline connections. This year’s cohort may also attend the Aspiring Directors Institute and serve in a volunteer role.

Meet the 2022 COhort

Tyrell L. Caine (he/him/his), Morgan State University
Tyrell L. Caine is a proud two-time graduate of Morgan State University where he received a Bachelor’s of Civil Engineering (2019) and a Master’s of Higher Education Administration (2022). Tyrell is a holistic student affairs professional who is passionate about the growth and development of students. He currently serves as the assistant director of special events at Morgan State University and aspires to become a director of student life/development or vice president of student affairs one day.

Stephanie Diaz de Leon (she/her/hers), University of Wisconsin–Madison
Stephanie Díaz de León is a proven professional in outreach, engagement, and workplace diversity. She is currently the diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant at University of Wisconsin–Madison’s union. Previously, Stephanie was the signature events coordinator for the Wisconsin Union, where she oversaw and executed many major events. She has also served on the Engagement, Inclusion, and Diversity Committee and the Engagement, Inclusion, and Diversity Council. Stephanie also works as 365 Media Foundation’s director of outreach and engagement and is the lead planner and designer of the Wisconsin Leadership Summit, the state’s premier professional development and community-building events for leaders of color throughout Wisconsin.

Desmond Dunklin (he/him/his), University of South Alabama
Desmond Dunklin is the coordinator of university programs for the University of South Alabama. He holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and a master’s in higher education. Desmond is currently a doctoral student with an emphasize in diversity and inclusion in higher education. In his spare time, Desmond enjoys working out, spending time with his family and dog, and going to the beach.

Di’Monique George (she/her/hers), Rochester Institute of Technology
Di’Monique George is currently the associate director for student engagement at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where she oversees clubs and organizations including sororities and fraternities. In her free time, she enjoys going to the movies and concerts, attending shows at the local Broadway theater league and sporting events, visiting museums and art galleries, and cooking.

NaQuan Redd (he/him/his), Rutgers University–New Brunswick
Born and raised in New Jersey, NaQuan Redd found his passion for student affairs at Rowan University. Originally graduating with a bachelor’s degree in health/exercise science at the university, NaQuan received his master’s in higher education administration. NaQuan spent great years working at West Chester University of Pennsylvania before moving to his current position as an assistant director for student centers at Rutgers University. When not working, NaQuan loves playing video games, working out, or hanging with friends and family.

Sergio Renovato-Vasquez, University of North Texas
Originally from Matamoros, Tamaulipas Mexico, Sergio Renovato-Vasquez grew up in League City, Texas. Currently, Sergio is an assistant director of operations for the union and the supervisor for the Center for Student Affairs at Discovery Park, a satellite campus that houses the College of Engineering and College of Information. Sergio has a bachelor’s and master’s in business administration from Midwestern State University and graduate with a master’s in higher education from the University of North Texas. Sergio has worked his entire higher education career with the University of North Texas University Union. Sergio volunteers with greek life as staff advisor for MGC organizations. Sergio serves as staff advisor for the Omega Delta Phi Fraternity Alpha Chi Chapter and Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority.

Mahin Sandoval-Chavez (she/her/hers), Clemson University
Mahin Sandoval-Chavez is from Denver but currently reside in Clemson, South Carolina. Mahin attended the University of Wyoming where she graduated with a bachelor’s in family and consumer science. During her time there, Mahin discovered student programming and was exposed to the ACUI community. Still wondering what she really wanted to do in life, an advisor suggested Mahin try out higher education and student affairs. Upon graduation, she moved back home to Denver and attended the University of Denver and graduated with a master’s in higher education administration. After graduating, Mahin moved to Clemson, where she currently is the assistant director for student programs and oversees the late night programs as well temporarily advises the large-scale events student organization.

Akyanna Smith (she/her/hers), University of Massachusetts–Lowell
Akyanna Smith identifies as an Afro-Latina lesbian working in student activities and leadership at the University of Massachusetts–Lowell. Working with programming boards is the heart of what Akyanna does; but outside of the office, you can catch her enjoying brunch, at a farmers market, or in a Pilates class.

Closing the Gap Supporters

Supporting the program are a group of senior-level professionals who provide coaching, career sponsorship, and personal experiences with the participants throughout the program. Each supporter engages with an assigned participant and the entire cohort throughout the program, collaborates with the other supports and Central Office liaison to determine monthly educational topics based off of cohort interest and needs, collaborates to facilitate each month’s gathering, and participates with a willingness to share resources, advice, and feedback.

The supporters for the 2022 cohort are: Mike Coleman, dean of student engagement and impact at Wake Technical Community College; Jan Javinar, vice chancellor of student affairs at University of Hawaii–West Oahu; Yakima Melton, director of the Busch and Livingston Student Centers, Rutgers University–New Brunswick; and Tonee Sherrill, executive director, Associated Students, San Francisco State University.


  • Steve Chaplin

    Steve Chaplin is managing editor of ACUI’s The Bulletin and manager of the ACUI College Union and Student Activities (CUSA) Evaluation Program. A former newspaper writer, editor, and manager, he has volunteered as a student mentor as a member of the National Association of Science Writers, and received awards for his writing and reporting from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Kentucky Education Association, and the Kentucky Press Association.

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