Western Washington University filled two new student-support roles this summer, hiring Melissa Uyesugi as the assistant director for Multicultural Student Engagement and Delfine DeFrank as the Student Representation and Governance advisor.
Assistant Director for Multicultural Student Engagement Melissa Uyesugi
Uyesugi joins Western after serving for more than 20 years as a higher education professional in the state of Washington. She worked for several federally funded TRiO programs, served on the admissions outreach team at Washington State University, managed student engagement and leadership programming at Edmonds Community College, and led Diversity and Inclusion efforts within the master's degree programs at the University of Washington's Foster School of Business.
“Melissa brings a wealth of passion, energy, skill and experience to this role, and we are excited to welcome her,” said Executive Director of Student Engagement Eric Alexander.
Hailing from the state of Hawai’i, Uyesugi left the Aloha state to come to the Pacific Northwest after obtaining her bachelor’s degree in ethnic studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. She moved to Seattle as a member of the AmeriCorps program stationed at the SafeFutures Youth Center in West Seattle before receiving her master's degree in Student Development Administration at Seattle University.
While still settling into her new role, Uyesugi outlined that her commitment to accessibility, diversity, equity and inclusion remains a driving force in her work. The main charge of this role in the VU is to develop and lead co-curricular programs and inclusive spaces that support historically underrepresented student groups at WWU. Uyesugi will also provide leadership and coordination to a pair of Associated Students programs, the Ethnic Student Center (ESC) and the Student Advocacy and Identity Resource Centers (SAIRC).
“We are excited about this new position on campus and in the Viking Union,” Alexander said. “The Assistant Director for Multicultural Student Engagement is so critical in leading student focused programs and activities that help to bring together our diverse and structurally marginalized communities, centering identities, histories, and culturally responsive engagement.”
Student Representation and Governance Advisor Delfine DeFrank
DeFrank comes to WWU after spending the majority of their academic and educational career in Oregon. DeFrank previously worked with Campus Compact of Oregon as its Educational Programs coordinator, and as a VISTA and Summer VISTA leader.
After graduating from Oregon State University with her bachelor's degree in Food Science & Technology, and being a student activist during her undergraduate career, DeFrank made a career pivot to education, obtaining a master's degree in Student Affairs Administration from Lewis and Clark College.
DeFrank plans to continue equity and justice work at Western, and in her personal life, by building on experience garnered in the Portland Metro area as an AmeriCorps member and through their involvement within the community.
“We are thrilled to welcome Delfine to our staff, as they offer such great care for centering student voices and supporting continued growth and development of student leadership,” Alexander said.
The new Student Representation and Governance advisor position was created to more fully focus support and advising for the Associated Students Executive Board, AS Senate, and the AS Office of Civic Engagement, as the student governance and representational structures have expanded to be better able to represent WWU's students.
“I hope to be a person that folks can see and reach out to for student governance and civic engagement in our community at Western and the city of Bellingham,” DeFrank said. “Approaching things with a critically reflexive lens and advocating for equity, justice, and liberation for our community members that have been historically marginalized as we collaboratively engage with students, the institution and government are my goals as an advisor.”