Rebeca Mendoza ’17, M.A. in Psychology, is a community activist who is devoted to the well-being of her hometown. She was recently appointed to the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Board of Education.
“After graduating from college, I returned home to see that many of the disparities in my own community had not changed. Specifically, the ongoing achievement gap for our students of color,” she said. “This is my community, and I care deeply about it. I am a product of the District 65 school system.”
As a mom herself, Mendoza’s focus is on families and children. That concern is evident in the areas of community leadership she has committed herself to over the years. She spent eight years serving on the board of the Evanston Coalition for Latino Resources, a network of social service providers targeting Spanish-speaking residents. She worked another five years as a mentor through Project Soar, empowering families with literacy, leadership and employment skills. Add to that three years on the Evanston Arts Council as well as her current board position with Books & Breakfast, providing Evanston students with breakfast and homework help at local schools.
Mendoza brings this wealth of experience to her new board position and will apply her unique perspective as a community activist in order to “support high-quality education and equitable learning environments” for District 65 students. Part of that perspective as a community-oriented leader means Mendoza plans to reach out to parents and neighbors “to become advocates for student advancement and well-being.”
As a board member, Mendoza anticipates some successful collaboration with leaders in Evanston and Skokie as well. “As a member of the city/school liaison committee, I get to work with our local government to collaborate on shared goals. I’m looking forward to work on that committee,” she said.
Mendoza, while searching for the right master’s degree, was originally drawn to National Louis University because of the reputation and flexibility of the M.A. in Psychology program.
NLU’s master’s degree in psychology allows Mendoza to translate academic knowledge into practical action in her community work. “[My degree] allowed me to sharpen my knowledge of psychology and ways I can apply it in my everyday life. As an aspiring community psychologist, it has brought me closer to that goal,” she explained. “I feel better equipped to promote mental health and community well-being, engage in action-oriented research to develop, implement and evaluate programs, and build collaborative relationships with community members, groups and organizations to solve social problems.”
Mendoza is eager to start work with her fellow board members.
“The great part of being on a board is that you are part of a team. Each one brings their own skill set to contribute. I’m very fortunate to be part of such a talented and committed board,” she shared.