The teaching credential student is the first member of her family to be born in the United States and graduate college. She has been an integral part of the education of her younger brother, Danny, 17, who has Down syndrome. He has inspired her to help others with special needs.
Mendoza is the recipient of the 2011 Hearst CSU Scholarship for Cal Poly Pomona because of her excellence in academics and determination to help others. The $3,000 scholarship is given to one student at each CSU campus.
¿Navigating the education system has not been easy,¿ says Mendoza, who has juggled a full load of classes, work, co-curricular activities and responsibilities at home. ¿But I believe in never giving up even in the most challenging of times.¿
Helping others has always been a part of Mendoza¿s life. She accompanies her mother and Danny to doctor¿s appointments and acts as an interpreter. In addition, she volunteers at an elementary school to help teach children with moderate learning disabilities to read. Her goal is to teach special education in elementary school.
¿I want to help other children with disabilities be as independent as possible and do more things on their own,¿ says Mendoza, who graduated in 2010 with a bachelor¿s degree in liberal studies. ¿I want them to be integrated and accepted into society.¿
Liberal studies department Chair Stephen Bryant, her mentor, hopes others are inspired by Mendoza¿s dedication and hard work.
¿She¿s had to overcome significant difficulties to get where she is,¿ Bryant says. ¿I hope others take from her story that perseverance succeeds.¿