MAYWOOD, Ill. - Being there when his students need him is what James G. Mendez said is his primary responsibility as the new assistant dean for student affairs at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, Ill.
âBeing responsible for the academic, financial and emotional well being of hundreds of medical students is no easy task but itâs the most vital thing that I do here,â the 44-year-old Mendez said. âBeing a student at Stritch can be very stressful. The curriculum is very demanding and time-consuming. My role here is to ease as much pressure as possible on the students so that they can concentrate as much as they can on their studies and personal growth.â
Mendezâs responsibilities include providing academic advice and personal counseling, developing policies related to student issues and making sure that students are informed about the schoolâs policies and procedures.
âItâs giving students a lot of information related to all that,â Mendez said. âEither through events or either through the Web and other types of vehicles that get them the information they need quickly and timely.â
Mendez also helps students to choose a specialty and plan their careers by assisting them to explore their interests, skills, goals and values.
âI tell students when theyâre trying to choose a specialty to try and pick something that you truly enjoy doing. Itâs a total blessing if you can pick something where on Monday morning, weekendâs over, you have no problem getting up and going to work,â Mendez said. âThatâs a blessing. That is good. I can say that about my job. I enjoy what I do and look forward to work.â
Mendez brings almost two decades of experience in academia to his position. Before coming to the Stritch School of Medicine, he served as the assistant dean for student affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Medicine. There he oversaw the day-to-day operations of the collegeâs office of student affairs.
âJames is a valuable addition to our academic team at Stritch,â said Mike Lambesis, assistant dean of student life, Stritch School of Medicine. âHe brings a wealth of experience and knowledge that will be extremely helpful in this position. I have no doubts that he will be wonderful with the students.â
Mendez has spent his entire career in academia, initially entering the field in July 1988 as a financial aid counselor at UIC, where he eventually rose to director of medical school financial aid.
âIt was a natural transition to move into student affairs,â Mendez said. âYou know how money is. It makes people react in so many different ways. Coming out of financial aid, Iâve seen all of that. It taught me to be calm and patient, and to always give people the benefit of the doubt. When I was a rookie financial aid counselor it wasnât easy but Iâve got 19 years under my belt so Iâve seen a lot.â
A native of Chicago, Mendez said coming to work at Stritch School of Medicine was a relatively easy decision for him to make.
âWhatâs different about this place is there is a real, organized, focused commitment to volunteerism and community service,â Mendez said. âThatâs a wonderful thing that helped me in terms of my decision.â
Mendez earned a bachelorâs degree in history from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill., and a masterâs degree in history from DePaul University in Chicago. He is currently working on a doctor of philosophy degree in history. In 2004 and 2007, he won the Frank T. Sparks Award for Outstanding Service to Medical Students.
His professional affiliations include the American Association of Medical Colleges-Central Group on Student Affairs, Illinois Association of Financial Aid Administrators and the Illinois Committee of Associate Deans. He lives in Homewood with his wife Katrina, daughter Kellie and son James III.