Behind CHS senior Bianca Mendieta’s big smile is a student determined to pursue a quality education after emigrating from Mexico four years ago.
Growing up in Mexico, it was obvious Mendieta was a promising student. But at 13, her parents started to question their ability to pay for her future education.
One day, she overheard a conversation between her parents. They decided that the best course of action was to send her to California with an aunt to pursue a high school education in the United States.
“Just thinking of the fact that I was going to leave my family behind and not have them by my side was very heartbreaking,” Mendieta says. “The best thing for me was to get through school and help my family out.”
Mendieta hasn’t seen her immediate family in the four years since she came to California.
Mendieta, who grew up in a traditionally Mexican household with her three siblings, was born in Salinas, but raised mostly in Mexico. Her family returned because her father wished to stay true to their Mexican roots.
“What I remember about the holidays back in Mexico was how everyone would have a good time and how my whole family being there was the best.”
She attended a school in Victoria, Guanajuato. Her classes had an average of 35 students or more.
When the time came to leave Mexico, she was “full of indescribable feelings.” All she really wanted was to make her parents happy, but she also wondered if she could adjust to life without them.
“My parents were making a hard decision,” Mendieta says. “They were looking at their [13-year-old daughter] flying away from them.”
Once Mendieta settled into her aunt’s house in California, she started looking into schools and attended Monterey High School her freshman year.
“Going to Monterey High was quite an experience,” Mendieta says. “I had a hard time learning English and fitting in, and the school didn’t help that much.”
While she struggled in school, she was also having a tough time at home. She moved in with two different aunts until she finally settled in with the aunt she currently lives with.
“Living in different houses of family members you have never seen before isn’t like living in your own house,” Mendieta says. “I asked permission for everything hoping I [wouldn’t] do something wrong.”
She transferred schools during her sophomore year to Carmel High School and has been at CHS ever since.
With regard to her experiences at CHS, Mendieta enjoys how helpful the teachers are. She feels they never leave students unattended.
When Mendieta isn’t hard at work on her studies, she works part-time at the Carmel Drug Store to bring home extra money. Two days per week, Mendieta also helps tutor students who need help in math.
Even though Bianca Mendieta lives a very busy life, the idea that one day she will return and see her family keeps her going and motivates her to succeed.