Name: Jose Alfredo Mendoza
Alma Mater: University of California, Santa Barbara (Ole… Ole… Ole.. Gauchos!)
Major: B.A. Global Studies
Background: I began my college career at the University of California Santa Barbara as a Psychology major. During that first year, I realized that I couldn’t see myself pursuing a career related to Psychology. I decided to explore other courses and quickly became intrigued by Global Studies courses. Global Studies encompassed a broad range of topics I was interested in including globalization which seeks to “promote critical reflection on how the world works as an interlinked, interactive set of processes and relationships that operate across broad spheres of experience, from the social to the political, the economic to the cultural, the religious to the environmental, the legal to the technological, the scientific to the subjective.”
Learning about these different topics/issues made me feel more connected and aware of the world around me. It also made me want to take action and be further involved in my community. I always felt a connection working with youth and decided to participate in Big Brothers Big Sisters program throughout the majority of my time at UCSB. I was also inspired to travel and went on a study abroad trip to Paris, France for five months in 2012.
Why you serve: I serve because I would like to see more students of color and underserved groups in positions of power. I strongly believe that through STEM education, especially computer science, youth can empower themselves and their communities. The lack of Black, Latino, and female professionals in the technology workforce is a huge concern of mine.
I was first intrigued by computer science education when I saw elementary students participating in an Hour of Code session during my service year with City Year Los Angeles. Seeing their excitement while they solved a puzzle or created their own game was one of the most memorable experiences of being in that classroom. I was eager to create more opportunities for students, so I collaborated with a teacher to bring the Hour of Code session back during one of our school-wide events. This experience ignited my passion for STEM education and motivated me to serve with the CSU STEM VISTA program.
Advice: I came into this year looking for a new challenge and definitely got what I was looking for. This year I learned that in order to be an advocate for the community I serve I
have to first be an advocate for myself—meaning, I have to take care of myself first both mentally and physically. Also, I learned to not be afraid to speak up and that it’s okay to politely disagree with ideas. Ultimately, I learned not to worry so much about trying to impress others.
Most importantly, give yourself some credit! You’re doing important work but it’s okay to make mistakes because it’s all a learning experience. Try to smile and laugh through the stress and pressure. Even if no one tells you that you are doing a great job, continue to believe in yourself and take the time to appreciate your small victories. Stay true, stay humble, and stay positive!
Legacy: I want the next VISTA to have an easier time adjusting to my site and to feel like they have the tools necessary to learn quickly on their own. Most importantly, I would like to create a sense of support and encouragement here. I’m still working on how I can make this possible. I especially want the next VISTA to have connections to community partners and resources available to them on campus. I started feeling more connected with the community when I started getting out of the office and interacting with SJSU students and K-12 students. I will do my best to make sure these opportunities are available and accessible sooner for the next VISTA.