Monday, May 1, 2017

Join Student Speaker Gloria Mendoza Wed. May 3

Rio Salado College holds its annual commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 3, 2017, at Comerica Theater in Phoenix. For commencement student speaker Gloria Mendoza, graduation is a dream that is finally coming true after an 18-year long wait.

“At the age of 16 I dropped out of high school to escape a difficult home situation,” Mendoza said. “I took on a full-time job and lived on my own but promised myself I would return to school and graduate as soon as it was possible.”

Then life happened, and at the age of 18, Mendoza found herself on a new life path.

“I became a mother and a wife and dedicated myself to raising my family” Mendoza said.

Then in 2014, facing challenges in the employment field, Mendoza decided it was time to make a change.

“At the age of 32, with the support of my family, I started my journey back to school,” Mendoza said.

She earned her high school equivalency and enrolled at Rio Salado College to pursue a degree program.

“Thanks to Rio’s online classes and flexibility, I was able to continue to work, raise a family and work toward obtaining a college degree,” Mendoza said. “And even though there were long hours, sleepless nights, homework, exams and times that I wanted to give up, I am grateful to finally be at this point.”

Mendoza sought full advantage while at Rio, she joined Rio’s chapters of the national Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) student honor society and the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS).

"Through these memberships I was able to meet advisors and students who offered me support and guidance through my journey and helped me excel," Mendoza said. "They became a second family for me of genuinely wonderful and caring people who support each other and rejoice in each other’s successes.”

Mendoza is earning an Associate in Arts degree from Rio Salado, and plans to transfer to Arizona State University to pursue a psychology degree. She ultimately hopes to attend law school to become an attorney.

“Rio will always hold a special place in my heart,” Mendoza said. “As it allowed me to find that link that had been missing in my life for so long: education.”