When he arrived in Allston from Honduras a decade ago, Allston resident Jose Mendoza’s parents wasted no time in signing him up to take part in the mentoring program at the Harvard Ed Portal. In the beginning, the then 10-year-old came twice a week to learn about everything from life sciences to mathematics. He continued coming throughout his time in middle and high school. Upon high school graduation, he found himself returning to the Ed Portal with his two younger sisters who were also taking part in the mentoring program. His Ed Portal relationship eventually turned into a part-time job with Harvard’s Public School Partnerships (PSP) team, allowing him to work closely with students and teachers within the Boston Public Schools and Cambridge Public Schools, as well as with education experts from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.
Today, Mendoza, a rising junior at Lesley University and the incoming Student Body President, is tackling a new challenge. He’s currently enrolled in the Health Career Connection (HCC) program, which partners with the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health, Dana-Farber, and more. HCC is a prestigious national nonprofit working to empower underrepresented students who want to pursue healthcare and public heath careers. Mendoza first learned about the program through his Success Boston College Coach, a college completion initiative program for Boston Public Schools graduates, as well as through the Boston Foundation Student Leadership Council, where he is a member and an ambassador.
The Gazette checked in with him recently, and asked him about his new internship and his future plans.
GAZETTE: Last we heard from you, you were knee deep in running educational enrichment programs for Allston-Brighton students at the Ed Portal. Today, you’re enrolled in an impressive healthcare internship at Dana-Farber. Was this always part of the plan?
MENDOZA: I have always been, and always will be, committed to advancing educational opportunities — especially to first-generation students like myself. My time spent with Harvard’s Public School Partnerships team, which is entrenched and making a difference with the local schools, and at my various activities at Lesley, has only solidified that passion and that commitment.
But I have also always been interested in the healthcare industry. One of my goals has always been to intern in a hospital that played a big role within the community, had a strong mission and values, as well as strong partnerships with other hospitals and institutions. Dana-Farber fit all of this perfectly. It has incredibly strong partnerships and affiliations with Harvard, with the Boston Red Sox, with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and more. And it’s making a difference in the lives of countless people with cancer. When I learned about the opportunity to intern at a comprehensive cancer treatment and research center in Boston, there was never any question — I knew I had to apply.