Written by: Amber Denney
Jori Mundy has a passion for helping people.
It was that passion and the encouragement from others that led her to pursue a master’s degree in public affairs from IUPUI in 2015. Recognizing one’s passion in life and using it to steer one’s path will be a theme in her speech at IUPUI’s undergraduate commencement ceremony at 4 p.m. May 14 in Carroll Stadium.
Mundy received her bachelor’s degree in African American and African Diaspora studies from IU Bloomington in 2008, and shortly thereafter, landed a government role delivering public assistance programs to Indiana residents. Mundy said she found great joy and pride in the work she did, but an 80-year-old client’s praise of Mundy’s talent for public service work secured her career path.
“She was just a sweet little lady who came, and I worked feverishly to secure her benefits only to realize that she wouldn’t be eligible,” Mundy said. “It was not the news I had hoped to deliver, but I still had to do the job, so I went to deliver the news.
“It was what she said to me that changed everything. She said, ‘It’s okay, honey. I’m just thankful there are people like you that exist to be of service.’ I don’t know what other scenario would elicit knowing you were doing exactly what you were supposed to do at the moment, while also recognizing that there is more to do in order to serve. That interaction changed the trajectory of my whole experience and career where eventually I would land.”
That path led to IUPUI, where she concentrated on public administration and management. She continued working full time while pursuing her degree, using her academic experiences in real time in the workplace. Mundy credits adjunct instructor Roger Sell in the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs for helping her really grasp the business plans for government and nonprofit accounting and put those plans in place.
Mundy said another important takeaway from her experience at IUPUI was the holistic support she received from the faculty and staff.
“IUPUI conspired to make sure I was successful,” Mundy said.
In addition to a successful career in public service, Mundy also uses her life experiences to motivate others to take advantage of their own experiences to purposefully direct their life paths. The theme of her address is “Steer your life; don’t let it steer you.” Mundy said addressing IUPUI’s graduating class of 2022 brings that statement full circle, as IUPUI was the place where she took the wheel and steered her own life journey.