Alma Apolonio Bernal '21 Headshot

Alma Apolonio Bernal '21

Admissions Counselor, Mount Mercy University

Social Work

Paving the Way Through Compassion

When Alma Apolonio Bernal ’21 arrived on the Hill to begin her freshman year, she experienced culture shock.

“This culture shock for many Black, Indigenous, and people of color in the Midwest is not abnormal,” said Alma. “You’re going to find that a majority of institutions are predominantly white.”

Alma overcame her initial culture shock by getting involved and educating others on campus.

“I knew the benefits of being able to learn about different cultures and backgrounds through a shared experience, like education,” said Alma. “I became an advocate on campus."

I knew the benefits of being able to learn about different cultures and backgrounds through a shared experience, like education. I became an advocate on campus.

Alma Apolonio Bernal '21
Social Work

In her four years at Mount Mercy, Alma was involved in over 10 clubs, departments, committees, and programs. Most notably, she interned at the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission and served on search committees for Mount Mercy’s president and for the director of diversity, equity, and inclusivity.

“Being involved with the search committees allowed Black, Indigenous, and people of color to have a voice,” said Alma. “This involvement shaped my college experience and built my confidence.”

“Being involved with the search committees allowed Black, Indigenous, and people of color to have a voice.”

Alma’s dedication to social justice was recognized at the highest level when she received the Sister Catherine McAuley Award during Commencement.

“Like Catherine McAuley, Alma’s spirit comes from her compassion, sincerity, hope, and willingness to spread love to all those around her,” as said during the award presentation. “Alma is a servant, always willing to put those around her and her community above all else.”

Alma’s drive and passion will no doubt inspire others to work toward a more equitable world.

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