ahmed khanani (they/he): Director
ahmed is the Director of the Mosiac Center for Students of Color. ahmed joined UVM in 2023. Prior to coming to Vermont, they served as Director of the Center for Social Justice, Clerk of the Faculty, and Plowshares Associate Professor of Politics at Earlham College in Indiana.
ahmed had the good fortune of being born in the US to two immigrants, one a US citizen, the other a Pakistani one—and the bad fortune of being born in an era when folks really liked bowl cuts. Thankfully, they avoided that fate! ahmed and fam moved a bunch, he spent much of his childhood as an expat on a predominantly American compound in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, before ultimately ending up at a fancy boarding school where, unbeknownst to themselves, they def were brown, middle class (which, relative to many at that school, was, low-income), and also just unsure about what to do.
It took a few, but eventually ahmed found their way to the University of Colorado, where they began volunteering at the Women’s Resource Center, encountered the writing of Fanon and Toni and Angelou and Malcolm’s speeches and started thinking about difference in both the American and global contexts. Folks, it has been a ride! He completed a doctorate (political science) and really enjoyed teaching at Earlham, a small liberal arts college in Indiana. Over the first few years at Earlham, ahmed discovered a passion for institution-wide work and especially for advocating, supporting, and loving on persons in historically marginalized groups.
ahmed brings an abiding love for basketball (and has been a Nuggets fan since the 1990s), a love-affair with coffee, two hilarious, amazing, beautiful, weird kiddos, and a healthy appreciation for medium-funny jokes. They hope to learn from folks throughout the community about new skills for surviving and thriving and hope to be a plucky interlocutor and, too, comfort as needed.
Jaydeen Santos (She/Her): Assistant Director
Jaydeen Santos is the Assistant Director at MSCS. Jaydeen has been with the MCSC since 2009. Before working in the MCSC, Jaydeen was the Assistant Director for Diversity and Partnerships in the UVM Admissions Office.
Jaydeen graduated from UVM in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, minor in Psychology. In 2012, she earned a Master of Education degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration on undergraduate student health and wellness. Before UVM, she attended Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx, NY (an urban high school that has a partnership with UVM). Jaydeen was a member of the inaugural class of partnership students to attend UVM in 2001. Jaydeen was a first-generation, low-income, student of color from the inner city. She did not have the cultural capital to appropriately navigate all of the hurdles that college students encounter.
After realizing there were people on campus who cared about her success and wellness, Jaydeen started talking about her issues with advisors and counselors. Speaking up about her difficulties was her turning point. She learned that all students need someone who is willing to take the time to listen to their story. Jaydeen meets with students and takes the time to get to know them, their story, learn about their experiences at UVM, and then provides relevant advice. She is a supportive advisor who deeply cares about students at UVM.
If you are a student seeking support, guidance, or community, please do not hesitate in reaching out to Jaydeen. Her hope is to make your time at UVM fulfilling and enriching by breaking down the barriers to your success. She wants all students to feel that they are part of a bigger community where people care about their success and wellness.
Alex Hazzard (He/Him/His): Student Services Advisor
Alex Hazzard is the Student Services Advisor at the Mosaic Center for Students of Color (MCSC). Alex joined MCSC in 2022 and previously worked at the University of Vermont's Prism Center. Alex received his M.S. in Higher Education Policy and Student Affairs from West Chester University of Pennsylvania.
Alex was born and raised in the suburbs on Philly’s Main Line. A first-generation college student, initially studying music recording, the university was his chance to get away from home and re-discover his sense of self. Coming into his Trans identity mid-program came with a hefty set of challenges, and in the end, ignited a passion for equity and equal access in higher education. He first came to UVM in July 2019 after receiving his M.S. in Higher Education Policy and Student Affairs from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. When he’s not discussing philosophies of social justice, Alex can be found at home cooking, reading comics, or watching anime.
Diana Franco (She/They): Coordinator for Underrepresented Success and Retention
Diana Franco is the Coordinator for Underrepresented Student Success and Retention at the Mosaic Center for Students of color. Diana joined MCSC in 2022 and previously worked at the University of Vermont's Department of Residential Life. Diana has received her B.S in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Vermont and is working towards her M.Ed in Interdisciplinary Studies with a Certification in Resiliency Based and Trauma Informed Practices at UVM as well.
Diana was born and raised in The Bronx, New York City where she attended the High School for Environmental Studies (an urban high school that has a partnership with UVM). Choosing UVM was an unique opportunity to be completely out of her comfort zone and challenge herself in a variety of ways that contributed to her growth and passion for helping others and for student identity development. Coming into her own in her undergraduate student as a Queer, Afro-Latina student in a Predominately White Institution was the challenge that sparked her desire to help other Students of Color with their transition into college.
Need help navigating the big big world of college? Want to have a crying session in the office? Want to make connections with other students on campus? Diana is available to answer all those questions and more! When Diana isn't in her office she is taking nature walks, rollerblading, reading books wrapped in a comforter, or rewatching the same shows for the umpteenth time. Diana hopes to connect with you all over the course of the semester and is so excited to be part of the MCSC family!
Menuka (She/Her): Office/Program Generalist
Menuka Rai is the Office/Program Generalist for Mosaic Center for Students of Color and Interfaith Center. She joined MCSC in July 2022, two months after graduating from University of Vermont with bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Food Science.
Menuka was born and raised in Jhapa, Nepal, and in 2014, her family emigrated to The United States. She attended high school then university in Burlington, Vermont. Being in UVM as a POC student, she got opportunity learned to embraced her own and other's identities. As a POC student at UVM, she had the opportunity to learn to embrace her own and others' identities. Menuka is a first-generation college graduate who learned how to navigate college by participating in identity clubs and seeking resources. Because of her background as an immigrant, first-generation college graduate, and person of color, she is eager to connect with and provide resources to BIPOC students to the best of her ability.
Jonah Stern (he/him): Coordinator of Leadership Development and Programs
Jonah Sterin is the Coordinator of Leadership Development and Programs at the Mosaic Center for Students of Color. He is recently graduated from UVM with a bachelor's in Environmental Sciences.
Jonah is a Vietnamese adoptee who was raised in the suburbs of Allentown, PA. As an undergraduate student, he initially struggled to find where he fit in, questioning where he belonged due to the disconnect between his racial identity and lived experiences. However, he found a home in the Mosaic Center, which quickly became his second family. Diving headfirst into the community, Jonah was involved in the leadership of People of Color Outdoors, the Asian Student Union, the Interracial Adoptee Club, and many more!
Now, as the Coordinator for Student Development and Programs, Jonah is eager to connect with BIPOC students and let them know that everyone has a place in the Mosaic Center! He is excited to facilitate a space that empowers students to make change in the community through both their organizations and individual actions. In his free time, you can find Jonah hiking, playing on his Switch, or zipping around town on his Onewheel!