SPJ "2022 Excellence in Journalism Awards"
Writing, editing, or teaching, I believe in the power of the written word. Our stories can #empower, #enlighten, #educate and #entertain.
I enjoy covering education, women's issues, social justice, lifestyle, health and well-being, Latina influence on American culture, inspiring movers and shakers, activism, diversity, travel, and more.
My articles have appeared in Hispanic Outlook, Respect, Nike Organic Content, Baja Traveler, Access Health News, Legal Eagle, Uptown, OurCity San Diego, Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union-Tribune, Decor & Style, Kids' Wall Street News, and Hispanic, among other. My books include: "The Book of Latina Women: 150 Vidas (Lives) of Passion, Strength and Success" and "Sonia Sotomayor: A Biography" for young readers.
As president of Mendoza Communications, a writing and editing services company, I collaborate with authors to help them find their voice, tell their stories, and publish their work. Teaching Journalism and Creative Writing brings my love of the written word full circle as I witness the next generation of inspiring writers.
Being an advocate for women's rights and issues, I'm honored to have been selected a "Woman of Distinction" for my work highlighting gender issues, a thought leader in journalism by UC San Diego Extension, and one of “25 Influential Latina Leaders” invited to a private forum with Ms. Mazal Renford, Israeli delegate to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
SPJ "2022 Excellence in Journalism Awards"
1st Place/Sports: Getting Latinas on the links is Azucena Maldonado's mission with Latina Golfers Association
2nd Place: Multicultural. When Fabian "Spade" Debora ran across Interstate 5 near his Boyle Heights home in Los Angeles, he was hallucinating, paranoid, high on meth amphetamine, convinced the cops were chasing him. He ran from the demons-addiction, abandonment, neglect, domestic violence and gang affiliation--right back to the sanctuary of Homeboy Industries.
1st Place: Crime/Courts. When the coronavirus pandemic grew rampant in 2020, it took a toll on more than just health. Another problem surfaced—hate crimes against Asian Americans, who were wrongly being blamed for the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States because the origin of the virus had been connected to Wuhan, China.
3rd Place: Arts/Entertainment. A tribute to the legendary Mexican singer Vicente Fernandez, on his passing.
After the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children and 7 adults were killed, 45 states enacted more than 350 gun safety laws. California leads the nation with over 100 gun safety laws on its books, followed closely by New Jersey, New York and Hawaii.
Farming in the United States is a tough profession for anyone. You’re always at the mercy of Mother Nature for whether you have a good harvest or your crop is destroyed. The life is made even more difficult for Black farmers who have faced discrimination from the time of emancipation—a bias that still echoes today.
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a Black man, was detained by police officers in Minneapolis. He had allegedly used counterfeit money to make a purchase at a convenience store. Within minutes, he was face down on the street.
In 2000, the president of Mexico, Vicente Fox, tapped Dr. Julio Frenk to join his administration as Federal Secretary of Health. Frenk had been a doctor and earned his Master of Public Health and a joint Ph.D. in Medical Care Organization and Sociology from the University of Michigan. He knew it was a huge opportunity, even though he had reservations. “I did not belong.”
Maria Elena Botazzi and the Search for an Equitable Coronavirus Vaccine
"The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them." ~Ida B. Wells Shedding light on injustice was a way of life for activist Ida B. Wells. As an investigative journalist, she wrote of the horror of lynchings, indignities, and violence she witnessed against Black people.
Race. Identity. Ethnicity. Nationality. When applying for jobs, housing, colleges, or taking surveys like the census, one is asked to check the box in terms of how one identifies oneself. How an individual chooses to identify is personal, but identifiers can also be placed on groups of people, causing misinterpretations, cries of racism and colonialism, and efforts to find an equitable place in this multicultural world.
The exhaustion is real and goes deep. Shootings of unarmed Black and brown men and women by police officers forever change the lives of their families or close relations. But the ripple effect reaches the heart of communities. And sometimes, the emotional, mental and physical toll leaves individuals grappling with feelings of fear, anger, rage, grief, pain.
Decomposed bodies and broken bones lay in the desert. Playwright Josefina López broke down, unable to bear the thought that even in death, people were dehumanized and vilified.
When Army Sergeant Ernie D’Leon arrived home from Vietnam, complete with a Purple Star for his heroic efforts, he had hoped to ease into civilian life and bury his combat experience. The first question his girlfriend asked, however, was, “Did you kill anyone?” The question jolted him into a reality he was not prepared for.
“I’ve traveled the world, earned degrees--even from Harvard–but my heart brings me back to this.” ~Mariachi player Dr. Leonor Xochitl Pérez
Profiles: Inspirational Movers & Shakers
After 10 years of building relationships with community colleges, Dorado knew where to target his energies. “It made me realize I wanted to do more for my community, mi gente. I needed to pick up the torch for the younger generation.”
When Justin Lonon came to Dallas 25 years ago and landed an internship in the mayor’s office, he worked his way up and learned about building community. The street-level problem solving that was part of his job turned out to be his sweet spot. “I like the ability to help people,” Lonon said. When his outreach involved Dallas College, he fell in love with its mission—to transform lives and communities through higher education.
Up until about 10 years ago, Dr. Daisy Gonzales, Deputy Chancellor of the California Community Colleges, couldn’t answer questions about her success and upbringing without crying. In and out of foster care since she was two, a group leader told her she would have three choices: she’d end up dead, pregnant or in prison by the age of 16. “I remember thinking ‘those can’t be my only options,’” Gonzales said.
Born and raised in Hialeah, Madeline Pumariega found her passion for education as a student athlete at Miami Dade College (MDC) nearly 30 years ago. She worked as an administrator there for 20 years. And this year she returned as the first female president of the college.
Making a Difference: Helping Latinos Earn & Learn Financial Independence
"We will become revenue-driving, intelligence-based, higher purpose-driven Latinas making a mark on corporate America.”
In 1850, Jose Angel Navarro graduated as the first Latino alumnus of Harvard Law School. According to historian Dr. Daniel Coquillette, author of "On the Battlefield of Merit: Harvard Law School, the First Century," Navarro returned to San Antonio after graduation and advocated for the downtrodden and exploited in Texas.
Working with clay, steel, wood, sculpture or plastic, Dora De Larios features opposing forces in her art including mythological creatures and goddesses at once whimsical and fierce, Japanese and Mexican influences, Catholic and pagan, and the mystical and powerful feminine form.
2015 1st Place Excellence in Journalism Award--Magazine Writing/Multicultural
2015 2nd Place Excellence in Journalism Award--Magazine/ Profile. “I was the only Latina entrepreneur and I had to get over the feeling of being ‘less than.’"
Arjona is comfortable in his skin, with his integrity, social conscience and purpose. “I continued to do what I was meant to do.”
"When you think of hell as a biblical place, where your pain doesn't end, that was it." ~Ingrid Betancourt
"I'm proud to say that even though I'm Italian, I feel Latina." ~Laura Pausini
The students were 6 when a stranger walked into their classroom and promised she would pay for them to attend the college of their choice if they stayed in school and graduated.
About Teatro Campesino: "In some instances we got jailed, in some instances we got our asses kicked, but we did tour across the country." ~Luis Valdez
St. Mary's University School of Law in San Antonio offers deeper understanding of law in Guadalajara during intensive, insightful one-week immersion.
How does a Harvard education make a good U.S. President and leader?
Keeping the magic of science and math--STEAM--alive for girls starts here at the Sally Ride Junior Academy
For Dr. Eugenia Curet, suicide among students is a disturbing fact of college life. The spiral of hopelessness can go undetected. Students feel isolated and alone, afraid and overwhelmed until the pressure gets to be too much.
COSMOS: Cal State Summer School for Math and Science Immerses Students in Hands-on Courses
"Teachers have the biggest hearts because they have the opportunity to love so many students. We need to let them teach the whole child. This is what it means to teach.”
2016--1st Place Excellence in Journalism Magazine Award, San Diego Press Club!
Owners of the Spain-based Remedios Medina Collection—an expansive collection of works of art by Picasso--wanted to bring an exhibit to Texas, with Dallas or Austin on their radar. “As usual,” educator Sylvia Sutton said. “Then I thought, why not here? Why not the South Side?” She convinced them, and the exhibition flourished at Texas A&M University, San Antonio.
2015 2nd Place Excellence in Journalism Award--Magazine Writing/Education
U.S. Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program Takes High School Students Under Its Wing & Builds College Leaders
Take a luxurious escape to the Resort at Pedregal in beautiful Baja, California
The appeal of a sumptuous meal that engages the senses can start with the right wines.
In the small town of Ensenada, the best and grandest elements of Baja converge. Vineyards, sea and culinary treasures, and priceless resources make this land a place worth visiting to witness the culture of winemaking at its finest.
Excellence in Journalism Award--Magazine Writing/Opinion
Personal Essay on how Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor Challenged Me
Books I've Edited