Jairo Mendez, YES Prep Southeast Class of 2014, is a sophomore at Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA). He is a business management major, a campus admissions representative, and a member of the Organization of Latin Americans (OLA). He also remains connected to other YES Prep alumni on campus through Success Program initiatives.
*Success Program partners are secondary institutions with which YES Prep partners to support YES Prep alumni academically, socially, and emotionally.
Tell us about your involvement and leadership at SFA.
I’m a Jack Walker (a name derived from the mascot, the Lumberjacks), which is basically a tour guide, and I work for the admissions office as a recruiter. We give tours on a daily basis. For Showcase Saturdays, we give tours to over 3000 people. We also help with programming and orientation set-up. We accommodate guests and make sure they get the best experience– whether they’re a donor or a family looking to come to SFA.
Along with being a Jack Walker, I’m in OLA. With OLA, we try to build cultural awareness. We host a fiesta night or Spanish music night where we rent out a dance hall and have music, dance lessons, and food. In the fall, we host a Día de los Muertos festival. We want to encourage pride in Latino heritage. The group is growing every year, and we’re trying to have a bigger voice at SFA.
How do you remain connected with YES Prep?
When YES Prep comes to visit campus, I’m very excited. They usually post about it on Facebook and send texts. Jesse Carrillo (Director of Alumni Transitions) came last week and hosted a dinner. We had a chance to meet with other YES Prep alumni at SFA. I spoke with a couple upperclassmen and Jesse about creating a club on campus just for YES Prep alumni because there are about 47 of us, and it’s growing each year. Also, this year, I helped the YES Prep alumni who were freshmen. Since I was a tour guide, I offered to show them where their classes were and to walk them around campus.
What’s next for you? What are your goals?
I want to work in the family business. I’m 100% Honduran but born and raised in Houston. My family came here to establish their businesses. My aunt owns an exporting company here in Houston, Atlas Cargo, which exports household goods and cars to Central America. She’s trying to retire, so my cousin (who also graduated from YES) and I would take over. Last summer, my aunt gave me a summer internship as an exporter. I plan to do that every summer to learn the ropes of the business.
How did YES Prep prepare you for college?
One of the main things that I grasped from YES was time management. We always had an agenda. My freshman year at SFA, during syllabi week, I was the only one who had an agenda out. I was adding the dates for my tests and tutoring, so that I wouldn’t miss anything. Also, I haven’t freaked out over finals because I learned study habits such as the Pomodoro technique I learned in Senior Seminar: 45 minutes of no phone and no distractions.
I’m glad I went to YES; I love the fact that we’re a charter school. We have limited resources and we excel with what we’re given.