Isabella Mendoza: Finding Her Voice — and Her Purpose

Feb 9, 2022 | Community Health | 0 comments

Isabella Mendoza
By Melanie Raskin

The aha! moment for Isabella Mendoza, a junior at California’s Pepperdine University and currently applying to dental school programs, came when she first heard about social determinants and public health as a high schooler in the Loma Linda University Health Discovery and Transitions to Success programs. “I had never heard that,” she said. “I had wondered why lower income communities had less access to health care and no organic food stores. I didn’t know people actually studied this and wanted to change it. This connected to my passion for my city and my desire to give back. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in that moment, but I knew my end goal was to somehow work in the public health field.”

The daughter of educators and at the top of her SIsabella Mendozaan Bernardino public school classes, Mendoza was always college-bound, though the culture shock was huge. The Discovery pipeline eased that transition by revealing her gifts — those inner resources she could rely on to see her through the adjustment to difficult classesand new students. “I learned to be persistent, curious and confident, to talk to people I don’t know and enjoy it,” she said. “You can’t be afraid to talk to people who are different from you, to ask your questions and make a connection, because it can transform your life. Even if you don’t want to go into health care, you’ll learn something in the program that will help you move forward. And the whole point while you’re young is to step out, take advantage of meeting new people, learn new things. Find your voice and speak up.”

Mendoza did. She believes the network she’s cultivated since the high school Discovery Program will be a continuing part of her journey into her chosen health care field. To Mendoza, her mentors have been the difference between hoping and believing. “People genuinely want to help. They are kinder and moregiving than we think. I like that they see my potential — something in me that I couldn’t see for myself.”

That belief is paying off. Mendoza’s goal is to work in her hometown of San Bernardino and complete the circle of giving that Loma Linda started: the Discovery Program gave Mendoza opportunities, mentors and support. Now, Mendoza is ready to give back all that she has learned — about both health care and compassion — to her underserved Inland Empire community. “We don’t get anywhere alone. God opens a door, we connect with people, they inspire us. I want to be someonewho helps someone, too.”

Learn more about San Manuel Gateway College HERE

 

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