Alumni Spotlight Campus News

Juan Mencias: Building a Community

Juan Mencias BBA '15 is the founding president of the UGA Latino Council. (photo/courtesy of the decisive moment event photojournalism)

Juan J. Mencias BBA ’15 is known for his extraordinary efforts in connecting with Latino students at UGA.

An Ecuadorian student who’s now a senior at UGA once reached out to Mencias on Instagram to let him know how much of an impact his achievements had on her. Seeing another person from Ecuador let her know what a small world it really was and inspired her to strive toward the same level of success.

Mencias, the founding president of the UGA Latino Council, came from Ecuador to Georgia with his family in 2000. His Latin American roots and Bulldog spirit have come together to make him the person he is today.

“Ecuador is where I was born, and Georgia is my home,” he says.

Honored as a member of UGA’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2022 and as the 2022 Young Alumni Award winner, Mencias’ commitment to supporting students at the University of Georgia has not gone unnoticed.

For Mencias, receiving the Young Alumni Award felt like a victory for everyone who helped him along the way, including those involved with the Latino Alumni Group. Seeing their hard work translate into results was proof of how the connections made at UGA can lead to incredible futures.

“I carry the university on my back each and every day,” he says. “I’m a representative, so I do my best for the University of Georgia.”

In 2017, Mencias and Rosa Arroyo Driggers, UGA’s associate director of admissions, realized that Latino students were a rapidly growing demographic at the university and founded the UGA Latino Alumni Council. Mencias was surprised by the impact created and the many relationships that were established from the very onset. He even recalls connecting a fellow UGA grad with a former teacher at their very first event.

“The UGA Latino Alumni Council allows us to give proper representation in our communities, so everyone feels comfortable, whether you’re Latino or not,” Mencias says. “It’s about creating a welcoming environment and supporting students who want to go to UGA and see someone on campus that looks like them.”