Aurorita “Rorit” Mendoza is no stranger to Maryknoll/Miriam College. After graduating with a Communication Arts degree in 1968, she served in various leadership positions in Maryknoll College, including as Dean of Student Affairs and Planning and Development Officer. She is back, serving her alma mater as the Director of the Alumni Engagement Office and also as Strategy and Planning Officer of the Strategic Alignment Office.
On September 11, Rorit shared her wisdom with MC Nuvali’s graduates of 2020 during their virtual graduation ceremony. In her commencement speech, she articulated three key insights which she “now embraces as (her) truths.” That adversity is part of life, that you must stand for something larger than yourself, and that people always come first.
How did her Maryknoll education impact her life and profession? According to Rorit, “I learned early in my Maryknoll education that one must be part of the solution.” Read on to know more about this Amazing Alumni Achiever’s colorful career in development work, particularly in global health diplomacy with a focus on the HIV and AIDS pandemic. Her full commencement speech can be accessed through the link below.
Aurorita (Rorit) has dedicated almost her entire professional life in the development field, serving international, government, academic, and NGO communities. She is a practitioner in global health diplomacy and education with specialization in the HIV and AIDS epidemic. Her work in this field centered on strategy, policy and program development, particularly in the areas of capacity building, social mobilization and public advocacy.
She has worked at the global, regional and national levels in advancing HIV prevention while serving at the UN agency UNAIDS, which leads the global effort to end the AIDS pandemic. In Geneva, Rorit focused on the needs of marginalized populations, especially young people and women. Working with women’s organizations, the range of UN agencies, and governments as Gender Adviser, she helped integrate key issues on HIV and AIDS into various international women’s agreements such as the Beijing Program of Action and in resolutions of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. She was also a leading figure in coordinating the work of the Global Coalition of Women and AIDS in improving access to and providing quality HIV services for vulnerable groups including sex workers and migrant workers.
When asked to what she attributes her achievements, Rorit says, “I was inspired by the value of service to the community. Mobilizing the most affected and working together with them to find solutions on why they are vulnerable and how they can better access health services was an effective way of addressing this public health problem.”
Her work at UNAIDS spans the globe. As Regional Adviser of the UNAIDS Regional Team for Asia-Pacific, she oversaw an innovative HIV initiative for sex workers in India, which has since been recognized as a global best practice in HIV prevention. As UNAIDS Country Coordinator in Nepal, she collaborated with various government and civil society groups to plan and implement a multi-partner national strategic response to mobilize global resources to support the HIV cause. She has also provided technical guidance and support to several African countries that have seriously experienced the impact of the AIDS pandemic.
Rorit has also served as a full-time volunteer at Caritas Internationalis, working with faith-based organizations in addressing the challenges of children living with HIV and AIDS.
Click on the attachment below to read Rorit's commencement address during the 2020 MC Nuvali Graduation Ceremony.