Skip to content
Home » All Posts » Meet Mario Enriquez, Pacific alumnus and new director of Intercultural Student Success

Meet Mario Enriquez, Pacific alumnus and new director of Intercultural Student Success

People of Pacific recently stopped by the Intercultural Student Success (ISS) office to chat with director Mario Enriquez. He told us about his journey from Pacific student to working with LGBTQ politicians in Washington, D.C. to finding himself back on campus at Pacific as the new ISS director.   

We asked Mario about his favorite memories on campus (including his very own “Sasha Fierce” moment outside the Janet Leigh Theatre), his hopes for the future of ISS and why students should check out the space.  

Congrats on your new role as director of Intercultural Student Success here at Pacific! How has it been so far?  

Thank you! It’s been fantastic. It’s a lot different from being a student, even from being an alumnus. It’s now about actively being on campus and really thinking about ways that I can support student life and the greater Pacific community. And taking a step back to realize what my Pacific experience was like and what I want to give to the students, the new generation of Pacific Tigers.  

What are your goals for Intercultural Student Success?

I want ISS to be the leader on campus for not just students, but also for the entire university staff, faculty and the leadership to show that we are the ones leading the efforts in convening students of different intersectional identities. As we’re slowly coming out of this pandemic and how we’ve seen the world change and all these issues that are happening politically in the country, from anti-trans legislation to AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) hate, there are a lot of things that are affecting our communities. And with ISS, I really see us being the thought leaders that are bringing all these different groups together.

Do you have anything that you would like to share with students who may not be familiar with ISS?

The space is yours to utilize how you see fit. If you want to bring students together for a meeting for a particular discussion, if you want to plug in movies to our TV sets, even if you just need a place to relax and unwind after a stressful day, the space is yours.

What first inspired you to get involved in issues of diversity, equity and inclusion?  

For me, it’s always been personal. Coming from a low-income area—I’m from Lathrop—my parents struggled. Being part of Success TRiO and interacting with CIP (Community Involvement Program) students, I got to really get to know folks that were low-income and first-generation. And all these similarities with people that I was interacting with day-to-day really motivated me and activated me to get involved on campus and in the community.

And I give thanks to Pacific. It was really during these four years that I really got to apply what I was learning, not just in the classroom but in the community, and also the different clubs I was involved in here on campus. 

Can you tell us more about your experience as a Pacific student?

I had an incredible four years on campus. I lived in The Quad and I was actively involved all throughout campus. And I think for me—which is why I’m so committed to this university—when they talk about student-centered learning and campus environment, they mean it. 

I am a true testament to that. I’m a product of that learning environment and the support that I had over my four years. I was everywhere on campus, you name it: student life, I was part of Greek life, I was one of the first building managers for the DUC (DeRosa University Center) when we opened in 2008 and I was a RA (resident assistant) for a couple of years. I had several leadership positions on campus just everywhere, left and right.

Do you have any favorite memories from your time on campus as an undergrad?

I was always trying to find a way to channel all my energy into campus. I was selected president of the United Cultural Council, which was, at the time, the governing council that oversaw all the culturally based student organizations on campus. And they wanted us to do a big party on campus. We had a mini stage outside Janet Leigh Theater, and we hooked up a microphone and I was the emcee. 

There was something about that night. There was this energy, and something just came over me. It was like Beyoncé and Sasha Fierce. It was like my Sasha Fierce took over and I just had this great energy. And I think that moment, I just felt really connected to the students and what we were doing: getting the word out about the importance of diversity and why students of different backgrounds should be reflected on campus.  

After you graduated from Pacific, your career path took you to Washington, D.C., where you worked as director of domestic programs at the LGBTQ Victory Institute. What led you to this opportunity and what was the experience like?

I reconnected with a mentor of mine who I worked with years ago and he gave me the opportunity to work for the LGBTQ Victory Institute and to be able to work in the queer political space, which was something that I never thought I would do just because I didn’t think there was a job like that. 

In my position, I got to interact with state representatives and mayors and council members, and coming from the Central Valley, I felt even more connected to the elected officials who come from more conservative areas that aren’t as progressive to the LGBTQ community. They were heroes and inspired me to do the work.  So, I had an amazing four years at Victory. 

How does it feel to be able to take those experiences and bring them back to the Pacific and inspire students?

I was always committed to doing everything and learning everything that I could to eventually bring it back to my community. I knew that with everything that I was doing along the way, I would eventually come back and provide that lived experience.

I think we need people of all kinds of experiences. We need people on the ground that have been here for decades with their expertise. We also need people that can go out into the world and come back, and then have those groups collaborate. I think that’s where the real change happens, because you’re bringing all these experiences together and saying what works and what doesn’t and providing solutions to the community. 

Intercultural Student Success is home to Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Desi Student Success, Black Student Success, LatinX and Native American Success, the Gender Equity Center, and the Pride Resource Center. You can learn more about ISS, or contact the office at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *