Success Stories

Alumnus named ATHENA recipient

Mindy Ysasi CastaƱon is the first Laker to receive the ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award.

Mindy Ysasi Castañon said she was honored to be the first woman from Grand Valley to receive the 2012 ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award because it is a unique award that focuses on a person’s overall character rather than their accomplishments.

“What you do in life is important, but it’s more about who you are,” said Ysasi-Castanon.

The Grand Rapids native graduated from Grand Valley in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in management and marketing and currently works as a human resources consultant at Herman Miller.

The ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award, established in 2007, recognizes emerging leaders who work to improve the quality of life for others in the community and serve as role models for young women both personally and professionally.

Ysasi Castañon’s commitment to service can be seen through her past work with the GVSU Alumni Association. In this role she was an ambassador and worked to encourage other graduates to become engaged with the association. She also serves as a speaker, mentor and role model for GVSU undergraduate students pursuing careers in business. In addition, she is currently the professional development chair for BL2END, a young professionals group founded by GVSU graduates in 2006.

“Students need to know that other professionals struggle too and having role models tends to bring us back to reality,” said Ysasi Castañon. “Role models allow us to view the world through individuals who have already been down that road and experienced those struggles.”

In 2012, Ysasi Castañon was also awarded a Grand Valley Alumni Service Award for her demonstration of outstanding service to the university.

“Mindy is an inspiration to young women and embodies pride, passion, and service in everything that she does,” said Janean Couch, assistant director at Career Services.   

During her time spent working with the Alumni Association, Ysasi Castañon said she realized the importance of giving back with both your time and resources.

“There has never been a better time to get excited about Grand Valley,” said Ysasi Castañon. “Giving back is the best thank you anyone can give to both the university and the community.”

Ysasi Castañon was also selected as one of Grand Rapids Business Journal’s 2012 “40 under Forty.”

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without Grand Valley,” said Ysasi Castañon.

In the future, Ysasi Castañon said she plans to stay in the Grand Rapids area and possibly run for local office.

by Jessica Hines

This story was filed with the tags: Awards, Diversity, Volunteerism