Four new faces join the Office of Multicultural Affairs

Andrea Huete, Copy Editor

South Dakota State University welcomed four new staff members within the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA). Some were hired last spring, while others began this semester. 

With a lot of new faces of various ages, students will see the office thrive as staff complete training and share knowledge and resources to support one another and the students they will be advising. 

During this time, the university obtained Brooke Jackson, the new multicultural success advisor for Latinx students,  Lee Mallak, the new senior secretary, Jay Molock, the new multicultural student success advisor for African American students and Marjoanne Thompson, the new assistant director of Multicultural Affairs and National Student Exchange (NSE) coordinator.



Brooke Jackson is the new multicultural success advisor for Latinx students. Jackson is a first generation student and got her master’s degree at the University of South Dakota and her bachelor’s degree at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Jackson said she liked working with students. She was previously the interim director and coordinator at Native Sudent Services at USD. She later wanted to connect with latinx students to learn more.

“I know what motivates students… I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better at talking to students and to people who can support students in ways that I don’t know,” she said.

According to Shelly Bayer, director of Multicultural Affairs, her position is to primarily serve as a student success advisor, as well as be the advisor for the Latin American Student Association (LASA).

Bayer saidthat Jackson is a good fit for her position because of her excitement for helping students, her positive energy and lots of creative, fresh ideas. 

“In her first month on campus, she has already developed a number of connections that will enhance the work she is expected to do,” Bayer said.

Her collaborative spirit and her tremendous amount of programming will benefit the Office of Multicultural Affairs and LASA, Bayer added.

Jackson said her goals for this year are to “create a foundation and build relationships with students.” This way others can trust that together they can make progress while incorporating the student’s needs and interests. She also wants to collaborate with students so that way they can find their place on campus and feel like they belong.



Lee Mallak is the new senior secretary for OMA. They started at the end of last semester in April. They graduated from SDSU in 2020 with a bachelor’s in music education.

On top of being organized, prioritizing their next steps, being empathic and relating to people pretty well, Mallak taught the whole music program in Oldham-Ramona for a couple years and did a lot of secretary work during college for work study in the Performing Arts Center.

Though they changed their path by coming to SDSU, Mallak feels that just being in the LGBT community and being able to support people who are underrepresented makes them feel like a good advocate for students.

Karimar Zayas, president of the International Dance Crew, said that Mallak is very supportive and easy to talk to.

According to Bayer, Mallak is responsible for day-to-day management of OMA. Their activities include answering the phone and emails, updating the website and responding to students’ needs in the Multicultural Center. They are also in charge of processing bills and overseeing Jack’s Cupboard.

“Lee is also a critical contributor to the Office of Disability Services,” Bayer said. “This summer, they enhanced the website considerably so students with disabilities and their families have more resources and information. Lee is responsible for hiring the required note takers and providing students with digital textbooks based on their accommodation needs.”

Mallak said their goal for the year is to form relationships with students, while getting involved in clubs and planning events. In addition, they plan on coadvising with Jackson to provide more support for the organizations.



Jay Molock is the multicultural student success advisor for African American students. He started working for the Office of Multicultural Affairs just this semester.

He came from a historically black university, Langston University. in Langston, Oklahoma. He served there for nine years as a police officer and as an advanced state police officer, as well as a police chaplain. 

Molock was also part of the military for four years.

“I was stationed in Fort McClellan, Alabama as a police officer. So in the army, they call them MPs, which is military police, law enforcement,” he said.

He has an associate’s and bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in higher education with an emphasis in leadership. Molock mentions, “My thesis was on the recruitment and retention of African American males at a historically black university.”

Molock said he was interested in this position because he thought he would be capable and he looked like the people he would be serving. He found it nice that he would still be doing similar work, as he often finds himself mentoring others. He looks forward to listening and learning and to obtaining greater opportunities to advance in his career.

He loves working with the student body because, “They keep you up to date on the language and dress,” Molock said. 

Izak Benitez-Lopez, LASA’s treasurer, comments that he feels good about the selected staff.

According to Bayer, she sees him as a visionary and driven person to serve others. She hopes that he’ll focus on the student’s success with an emphasis on academic student support by developing relationships with students and assisting them with their skill development.

Molock added that he was hired to help the Black Student Alliance, whether it is with the executive board, BSA members, programming, planning and stating partnerships with other organizations on campus to collaborate and better assist students.

His personal goals vary, but he wants to build on what was left and meet students where they are at and grow from there. He takes pride in his affirmative manner and leadership skills.



Marjoanne Thompson is the assistant director of Multicultural Affairs and NSE coordinator. She started the position this June.

She obtained her bachelor’s degree in consumer affairs and her masters degree in curriculum and instruction in adult higher education.

Thompson previously worked at SDSU as an advisor coordinator and as an instructor for pre-health professionals in the College of Natural Science. 

Thompson worked as an academic advisor for the College of Natural Sciences. 

“She has a tremendous reputation on campus for her ability to support students and develop lasting relationships,” she said.

Through her 12 years of experience, Thompson added that she “Advised multiple student organizations, coordinated trips to conferences and professional schools for students, assisted in coordinating camps for high school students, met with hundreds of prospective students and families on campus visits, led study abroad programs to Ghana and Amsterdam, and led mentoring programs for first year students and a mentoring program with tribal communities in South Dakota.”

Thompson’s role will be to provide guidance to Jackson and Molock, especially in advising. 

“Marj will develop a strategic success advising plan,” Bayer said.

She will also coordinate the National Student Exchange Program and will assist in the development of OMA programming and initiatives, as well as advise the International Dance Crew.

Zayas said that although Thompson is on maternity leave, she has been helpful because Zayas was able to get in contact with her through email. So far, they are creating t-shirts for dance crew members to wear, so Zayas is looking forward to meeting Thompson in person so they can collaborate better.

In addition to her role, Thompson said her goal for the year is to help students feel empowered and embrace and celebrate who they are. She hopes to provide a safe space where students can come in and talk to her about anything.