Dulce Maria Mendoza.
That’s what Dulce Maria Mendoza wants everyone to know. You see, Dulce is not one to sit around and let opportunity come knocking on her door. She is working hard to ensure that opportunity knows she’s ready to kick down the door. Not only was she a graduate of Immokalee High School in 2014, she was the Valedictorian! While attending Immokalee High School, she was also earning college credits through Florida Southwestern State College, Florida Gulf Coast University, and Harvard University. Having received a scholarship through the Guadalupe Center, Ms. Mendoza choose to attend Arcadia University in Pennsylvania where she is currently pursuing a BA in Healthcare Administration with dual minors in Biology and Global Public Health. Unlike most college students who come home for the majority of their summer break to relax, Dulce has been hard at work. During the summer break between her freshman and sophomore years, she volunteered for four weeks by helping out at the Guadalupe Center and Taste of Immokalee. This summer, she more than doubled her extracurricular commitment and spent 10 weeks in the Summer Public Health Scholars Program at Columbia University. While one week was spent in Atlanta working at the Center for Disease Control, the remaining nine weeks was spent working under the Direction of Dr. Jacqueline Scoon, MD, MPA at Columbia University in New York. What’s truly amazing is that out of approximately 1,200 applicants nationwide, Dulce was one of only 42 scholars selected to attend the 10-week program. Dr. Scoon mentioned Dulce is “intelligent, mature, and wanting to give back to her community.” Some of the teaching assistants that worked under Dr. Scoon, said that with Dulce “You could feel her passion and her commitment to her topic.” While attending Arcadia University, she’s also volunteered at Holy Redeemer Hospital in Meadowbrook Pennsylvania. And, if all of that wasn’t enough, she’s also maintained a 3.89 GPA which has helped her secure a membership in two honor societies. So what does Dulce want to do when she finishes school? She has her sights set squarely on entering graduate school and earning a master’s degree in public health. She is hoping that her internships and volunteer experience will help her achieve the necessary amount of work experience that the school requires. Dulce wants every high school student in Immokalee to know that “There is so much out there in the world. You can’t just sit back and take without a plan for giving back.” She said that “There are plenty of barriers you have to overcome in high school, but the faster you realize the need to overcome those barriers, the faster you can focus on higher goals in life.”