Newman University has added a familiar face to residence life.
While Mendel Folefac is the new director of residence life, he is not new to Newman. Previously, he served as the graduate assistant for men’s basketball.
Road to Newman
Folefac hails from Arlington, Texas, and graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) in 2021 with his bachelor’s in kinesiology.
Folefac is a pastor’s kid (PK) and he gives lots of thanks to his parents for making him the man he is today.
“Without them, I wouldn’t be here. People ask why am I always smiling. I got my personality from my parents. I’m a PK kid and it ain’t always been perfect, but my parents have passed a lot of wisdom on to me. I’m grateful to God for them and I got to honor my family, my mom and dad,” Folefac said.
After graduating from UTA, Folefac was asked by one of the assistant coaches at UTA if he ever thought about recruiting. Considering that possibility lit a lightbulb.
“I wasn’t desiring and wanting it, but it was something that definitely sparked my mind,” Folefac said. “After I graduated, things were a bit dry, so I reached out to the coach and said, ‘You know what? Let’s give it a shot.’ I wanted to keep all my options open because you never know what God has planned.”
The coach helped Folefac find a job opening at Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma. Folefac visited the university and met the coach there but realized it wasn’t the place for him.
“It didn’t feel like I belonged or that was where I was supposed to be,” Folefac said.
When Folefac returned home, the UTA coach connected him with Coach Vinay Patel at Oklahoma Wesleyan University. While Patel didn’t have an opening for a graduate assistant position, he connected Folefac with R.J. Allen, head coach for Newman’s men’s basketball team.
“I’m forever grateful for (Coach Patel). Coach Allen and I really connected during that Zoom call, and he offered the job to me on the spot,” Folefac said.
Folefac then started working as the graduate assistant for men’s basketball at Newman in July 2021.
New year, new role
Folefac believes his new role is what was meant for him.
“It kind of felt like the role and I found each other,” Folefac said, who started his position Aug. 1.
“The job is never-ending, but I’m proud to say I do this because I don’t believe in pressure. I attack it,” Folefac said.
He is glad he gets to “empower great graduates through ResLife to transform society.”
Folefac said a big part of his job is making sure students stay safe and excel in and out of the classroom, which he has made his No. 1 priority. His favorite part of the job is being able to meet new people and see new faces. Folefac said this is a team effort and is very grateful for everyone who has helped him.
“My team here is great, I put my trust in them and they do such a phenomenal job since I’ve been in this position. My assistant Hayden Vandepol has been awesome and a lot of help. He has been one of the main reasons why I’ve been able to keep myself stabilized so far. So I’m grateful for him and Dr. Sara Mata, Miss Enid (Ortiz), Miss Kaitlyn Matthews and Miss Christine (Schneikart-Luebbe) as well, they’ve all been awesome,” Folefac said.
Get to know Mendel
Some of Folefac’s hobbies include journaling, listening to Gospel music, working out, poetry and playing basketball. Sometimes late at night, you can find him in the gym.
“I’ll be in the gym after 11 p.m. shooting some shots, but I love it because it keeps me around the campus and keeps me up to make sure everything’s okay and no kids are out here doing anything crazy,” Folefac said with a laugh.
“Sometimes it can be hard, but I just need my time to work out and pray. So if I’m able to do that, everything’s good and I’m good.”