Sandra Mendoza

Sandra Mendoza knows what it’s like to be in a new town and longing for the comforts of home. At Purdue, she joined the Latino Cultural Center’s Embajadores program and committed herself to welcoming and supporting others in the Latino community.

Age: 22
Hometown: Indianapolis and Guanajuato, Mexico
Major: Management
Career goal: School administration or corporate human relations
Why she volunteers: “I enjoy doing it. Wherever there is an opportunity and I have the time, I like to do it.”

On being on the community outreach committee for the Embajadores: “It’s fun. We get to do activities like celebrating the Day of the Dead with the families here in Lafayette. It’s great to keep traditions that otherwise they might not be able to do at home anymore. It’s like a clash of cultures. This year some of the kids came in costume because it’s similar to Halloween, and kids dress up for that.”

Reaching out to high school students: “We pair students from Jefferson High School with college students. We talk to them about financial aid and give them applications and show them how to fill them out. Last year we did two presentations, one in Spanish and one in English. Many of the parents, like mine, don’t speak English, and we found the kids were missing things because they were translating for their parents.”

Her favorite part of being an Embajadore is: “The mentoring. It means a lot, having someone take an interest and help you. I would have loved if someone had done that for me, and I want that for my little brothers and sisters in Indianapolis. This needs to be done here.”

On volunteering all over town: “I took part in College Mentors for Kids for a semester, too. And then my roommate started working at LARA (Lafayette Adult Resource Academy), so I started doing childcare there, and then I got involved with teaching English as a second language. I just like to help out.”

Dance, dance, dance: “I dance with a Latino dancing group. We do traditional quebradita. It’s hard to describe. There are lots of tricks, but it’s fun!”

Family time: “I have five siblings. The little one is three years old, so I like to read with her and play. And I cook with my mom. We do a lot of cooking.”

The graduate: I graduate this month! I’m the first one where I come from to graduate. It’s a very rural town and many of them haven’t even gone to high school, so it’s very exciting!”

By Tanya Brown