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Student finds success in the classroom
August 22, 2022
Ximena Mendez
Grade: 12 School: Baldwin Park High School District: Baldwin Park USD ACSA region: 15 Ximena Mendez exemplifies hard work and perseverance. The child of immigrant parents from Guanajuato, Mexico, Ximena faced not only language barriers but financial challenges as well. From an early age, she was asked to help out her family, most notably as her parents’ translator. It took a toll on Ximena, but school quickly became her safe haven. She joined the soccer team and also found success in the classroom. She graduated in June and plans to major in criminology at Cal State LA.
Can you share some of the challenges you faced growing up? I had to translate important documents to my parents. Sometimes not being able to translate properly was frustrating on both parts because our parents expected us to be very good translators at a young age. And we were not.
Were there times where it just felt like too much? There were definitely times where it did feel too much. And it felt like I showed that out at school with acting out and trying to get my mom’s attention. And I felt like it was the only way to do that. They would have to call her, and she would have to come down to the school and sit down with me and my teachers and just have a conversation about my behavior. It felt like that was the only time I was able to see her and actually spend some time with her.
Was there a turning point for you where things started to change? It was in middle school when I started to realize my mother was doing everything she was doing to help us. And at that time, I started playing soccer. My grades started improving. I just started becoming a better overall student.
What role has your school community played in your success and you getting to where you are today? The school administrators and the teachers did a very good job with helping me. They showed me that I could trust them, and I could definitely come and talk to them whenever I needed help. And if there were any issues, I could come to them as well. They showed that they cared and that really meant a lot to me.
What would your message be to students who have faced similar challenges? I would say things get better. You need to find your groove and you need to find your people. Sometimes your parents don’t understand what they’re putting you through. And that’s why having people who you can talk to is something that can take a lot of weight off your shoulders.
2022 ACSA Region 15 ESS Ximena Mendez.