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Mighty Mendoza


Senior Ana Mendoza earns near full ride at USC with many talents

Whether she’s helping new immigrant Bearcats in the Compas mentoring program, volunteering in the community, or just walking around campus, senior Ana Mendoza has made a great impact on the Bearcat community at PRHS. Her strong academic talents (she has a 4.45 GPA), volunteer activities and leadership talents earned Mendoza an acceptance at the University of Southern California with a scholarship encompassing everything but her meal plan.

“My friends began to get emails from USC one day, but I didn’t get anything, so I was worried, I thought I’d been rejected…when I got home I got a package from USC, and I thought ‘this is one fancy rejection letter,” Mendoza said. “When I opened it, the letter fell out and I read it said, ‘Welcome to USC!…I started sobbing with joy…so loudly my mom thought someone had died. I just kept thinking, ‘Why me? Why do I deserve this?’”

The answer is obvious to everyone around her.

“Ana Mendoza is one of the most extraordinary people I’ve ever met in my entire life, and she doesn’t know how extraordinary she is, which makes her all the more interesting…she is the best about our country,” AP Literature Teacher Aaron Cantrell said.

“At USC the whole environment is really supportive, its a huge campus, but its not like other campuses where its all competition…there’s a lot of school spirit, and it’s the perfect place for the major I want to be in,” political science, possibly with a double major in economics.

Mendoza is “still not really sure” what she would like to do, and she appreciates that her major is flexible. “You can do anything from social work to going to law school, working for a non-profit, things of that nature,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza has been a tutor in the Compas program, which offers bilingual tutoring to students who are recent immigrants to the United States.

“The expectations of [compas] students are so low, most admin just want to get them out of high school, but most of these kids want to do more with their lives, some of them want to be lawyers, they want to be entrepreneurs,  and I don’t think just because they can’t speak the language they shouldn’t be offered the same opportunities as everyone else,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza is also herself a DACA recipient who came the United States at the age of four years old.

“Moving here was way for the better, and really impactful…before I moved here, I was a really talkative kid, I talked so much, I was that one smart-alecky kid you listened to when I was a toddler…but once I moved here, I changed so much…I didn’t understand when my mom told me you used to talk so much compared to how I remember growing up here being so shy…I was really self-concious…I really underestimated myself,I didn’t think I was smart.” Mendoza said that as teachers began to notice her abilities and told here she had potential, she was “always really confused…I was always like ‘are you sure you have the right person?’ I wasn’t until I got to high school that I thought ‘maybe there’s something there,’ I never really thought of myself as a leader…sometimes we’ll get into group projects and people will wait for me to say something…[I think] how did this happen? I used to think ‘I can’t lead’…I think that being undocumented made me so insecure for a long time, but now I’ve been able to empower myself,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza had kept her immigration status secret for much of her life, but she became public by allowing the Crimson to feature her in December. The waters are still complicated to navigate.

“I remember I wrote in one of my college essays that I met a guy last year and we became close friends, and I didn’t tell him [that I was a DACA recipient] and my friends said “you need to tell him,” so I did. He was OK with it…later he said, ‘you can’t tell my Dad.’ His Dad has been very nice to me, he doesn’t. I really realized that people’s political beliefs don’t have to do with them being nice. People are good people across the political spectrum,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza has been an active community member, volunteering with the PRHS Key Club, the public library, and as part of the junior fair board.

“Being part of the junior fair board has been one of the best experiences ever…you usher concerts, and then you get to stay and listen to the concerts, so I got to see Garth Brooks,” Mendoza said. Mendoza said the crowd was so large that the security guards used the board to help control them “these big men were asking little kids to help them…I got to get up close and personal with Garth, keeping people off of his stage…we also got to watch the Chainsmokers practice, until they kicked us out for being a distraction” Mendoza said.

Ana has also participated in dance for much of her high school career, specifically enjoying contemporary dance the most because of its expressiveness. “Contemporary is something I really enjoy…it’s so free, and I feel like it embodies me,” Mendoza said. “It’s just really your own expression, every time I dance contemporary, I feel so overwhelmed with emotion, even a little empty…[like a] catharsis.”



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