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Volleyball coach recognized with UW System Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award

November 10, 2022
UW System awards

The University of Wisconsin System has announced the 13 recipients of the 2022 Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award, an annual honor given to faculty, staff, students, or community members to recognize their achievements in advancing equity and inclusion for people of color within the UW System as well as communities across the state.

This year is the 27th anniversary of the award through which more than 400 women of color have been recognized for their transformational work.

Guresi Mena
Guresi Mena, assistant Pointers volleyball coach, was recognized with the 2022 Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award.

Among the winners was Guresi Mena, assistant coach of the Pointers women’s volleyball team at UW-Stevens Point.

Mena finds that her passion for growing and elevating people of color, and especially women of color, stemmed from being a child of immigrants that supported, encouraged, and challenged her to work hard. As a student at UW-Stevens Point, she started a club within the political science department relating to pre-law students from all backgrounds, created conversations advocating for mental health, and infused an inclusive environment surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Throughout her life, she always worried about being one of the few women of color in social groups, on the volleyball court, and in the classroom. Within that journey, she found that she had an opportunity to reframe that perspective and create an environment that is accepting of people from all walks of life. She worked with her volleyball coaches at UW-Stevens Point to address injustice and discrimination issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as mental health awareness.

After years of discrimination and injustice throughout her life, specifically in her college years, she created the first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) through the Student Athlete Advisory Board at UW-Stevens Point. Her goal for this committee was to aid the athletes of color and help the DEI education process within athletics.

Overall, during her time at UW-Stevens Point, she chose to create a community that uplifted student athletes who have experienced situations involving injustice, discrimination, and mental health. With the support of her family, Coach Lyndsay Kooi, and her professors, she was able to help change this community and continue to change it.

This year, she is continuing her work with diversity, equity, and inclusion at UW-Stevens Point’s athletic department. Additionally, she is continuing her efforts to increase mental health awareness while being an assistant coach for the UW-Stevens Point Women’s Volleyball Team

Each UW System university was invited to select one woman to receive the award, which highlights each recipient’s contributions to improving the status and climate for women and people of color and to advancing the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“The UW System has a longstanding commitment to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion at our universities,” said UW System President Jay Rothman. “We are proud to honor these women of color whose achievements in advocacy and scholarship have transformed our campuses and communities to be more equitable and inclusive.”

Recipients will be formally recognized on November 10, 2022, in Madison at an awards ceremony and reception hosted by UW System. The ceremony and reception will be held in conjunction with UW System’s presentation of the Dr. P.B. Poorman Awards for Outstanding Achievement on Behalf of LGBTQ+ People.

For more information about the award and past recipients, see