Where are they now? – Monica Mendoza

After I graduated from Van Horn High School in 1987, I attended Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas, for a year and half. The following year, Bo (Bibiano) and I started our beautiful family. My daughter, Brianna Mendoza, was born in March of 1989. After she was born, I continued my education by taking classes at the El Paso Community College while working for the Probation Department with Lyndon McDonald. I would commute every Saturday from Van Horn to El Paso to attend EPCC for about year. Bo then decided to enlist in the Navy, and we moved to Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, CA. We lived there for about 5 years. While in California, I eventually started working full time at Marketing Development Group as a Customer Service Representative, and Brianna entered preschool on Base. When I worked at MDG, I started taking evening classes at Palomar Community College in San Marcos, California until June of 1995. Bo decided not to reenlist in the Navy.

We packed our bags and left sunny southern California and headed back to our beloved hometown. I didn’t really feel that way at the time because I was thinking of everything I could do to stay in California, but after a long conversation with my very wise mother, I agreed to come home, too!

When it was official that we would be returning to Van Horn, I started thinking about what I was going to do for work as Bo was going to be unemployed. He was going to take advantage of the GI Bill and apply to law enforcement agencies. In September of 1995, the timing was right and the stars aligned perfectly because I was very fortunate to get a good job in Van Horn working for the Department of Public Safety as an Administrative Secretary. I worked directly with Sergeant Damas Lopez and other DPS officers. I did not know it at the time, but our little family of three would soon be a family of four. Kevin Mendoza was born in May of 1996. I worked for DPS for another year, and then moved to Phoenix, AZ to be with my husband who was working in security, and later, in management.  When I moved to Phoenix, I started working at the Maricopa County Public Health Department for the Office of Health Promotion & Education as an Administrative Assistant. Meanwhile, Bo applied for Customs and Border Protection and eventually left Phoenix to complete the Border Patrol academy. I stayed in Phoenix with our two children until the end of the school year.  I finally moved to El Centro, California, in May of 1998. Bo had already graduated from the academy and was working as a Border Patrol Agent for the El Centro station by the time I arrived.

It took me quite a few months to find a job in El Centro, but I when I did, I was actually offered two positions in different departments at Imperial County Office of Education. For the last 18 years, I have been working for the Imperial County Office of Education. I started in the Student Well-Being Department as Student Assistance Representative working with troubled students at at-risk schools. I would hold support groups, give presentations on drug and alcohol abuse, and give students information and referrals to public agencies where they could find assistance and make use of local resources.

After a few months, I started working for Educational Services in the Curriculum & Instruction Department as a Clerical Assistant II, assisting program Coordinators with preparing training materials and interacting with teachers, principals and administrators on a daily basis.

I was assigned to special projects during my time in Curriculum. I was part of the team selected in Imperial County to write and develop the training curriculum for the Pearson Prentice-Hall California Literature. I assisted two English Language Arts Coordinators in this project with the typing, proofing, and formatting of the curriculum in its entirety and condensed training formats. We spent so many hours working on this curriculum that trained teachers throughout the state of California on the use of the newly adopted textbook.

I also assisted the Mathematics Coordinator in researching school and student data for the California Mathematics & Science Project (CaMSP) Cohort 11 and Cohort 12 grant applications. At the time, Imperial County Office of Education was 1 of 3 agencies, I believe, that was awarded the million-dollar federal grant. The other counties that were awarded grant monies were not funded the same amount. Because I had a role in the grant process, I was assigned to work with the Coordinator for that grant that was named PRIME, Precision Rigor In Mathematics Education.

Also during my time in Curriculum, I co-coordinated several of the Academic Events for students in Imperial County. I worked with local attorneys, judges, teachers, students and parents for Mock Trial competitions and with the teams that advanced to the state-wide Mock Trial competitions. I coordinated Job Shadow Day for over 200 students and placed them with employers throughout Imperial County. I co-coordinated the local Science Fair for advancement to regional and state competitions.

Last year, I started working in the Technology Department for the California K12 High Speed Network. My work in this department involves working with agencies and teachers throughout the state of California. I provide support on the use websites such as Digital Chalkboard developed for California educators. I also provide support on the use of resources available to educators and educational agencies throughout the state like K20Video and MyTechDesk.

My employment at the Imperial County Office of Education has allowed me to continue my education throughout the years. Although it was a very long process, I was able to achieve my one of my goals while working my full time position in the Curriculum & Instruction Department. I earned an Associate in Science with Honors from Imperial Valley College in 2007 and my Bachelor of Arts and Sciences, Liberal Studies with an emphasis on Social Sciences, from San Diego State University. I graduated with Distinction in May of 2012.

By far, my greatest accomplishments have been my children, Brianna and Kevin. Seeing my daughter receive her degree in Media and Cultural Studies from the University of California, Riverside in 2011 was one of the proudest moments in my entire life, and I felt that I had succeeded. The next proudest moment in my life was seeing Kevin blossom into the athlete that he has become and witnessing him accomplish his goal last May, which was to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Trials. I was in tears when he made the time cut.  My son competed at the Olympic Trials and swam alongside Olympians in Omaha, Nebraska this summer!! He is the first in our family to be a collegiate athlete. He currently attends the University of California, Santa Barbara. He hopes to graduate next year with a degree in Pharmacology.

Looking back through my years of schooling and employment, my dream as a child was to become a teacher. I specifically remember this in Mr. Solis’ 4th grade class. Then when deciding on which university to attend after high school, my focus changed to helping students achieve their future goals.  Again, Mr. Solis had an active role in this decision. My experience with law enforcement sparked an interest in possibly a criminal justice degree. However after receiving my degree in Liberal Studies, the desire to assist students reach their future goals still persists.

My next step is to continue my education. I do not know how long my next goal will take, but I know that I am not done.