Thomas R. Mendez

Opportunity has opened yet another door

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        I have been very blessed throughout my life, with a loving family, a supportive network of friends, and an abundance of opportunities.  I grew up in Kingwood, TX the son of a Colombian immigrant and a northern Louisiana woman.  I attended high school at St. Thomas High School in Houston, and while there participated in the publications staff as a writer and business manager.  I also was active on the debate team, but found my passion on the stage as a sophomore when I tried out for a school play.  I remained in theatre the rest of my time at STH.
        After graduating in 2005, I enrolled at the University of St. Thomas where I had the opportunity to participate in so many organizations that had a significant impact on me as a student, young professional, and leader.  I was able to spend a summer in Washington, DC as an intern through the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute, and work for an international energy professional thanks to opportunities presented by UST.   As an international studies major, I also participated in three study abroad trips, two to Mexico and one to Argentina.  My three week experience in Argentina is the reason, nearly two years later, the country was my first choice when applying for the Ambassadorial Scholarship.
       My work as a founding board member and president of the UST MicroCredit Progam was an amazing opportunity.  The work of the program attracted the attention of some local Rotarians, and I was once again blessed to apply and win an ambassadorial scholarship.  Since being awarded the scholarship, I have found in Rotary an international family of fellowship that shares my own vision of a better world and is actively working to attain that vision one child, one family, and one community at a time.
        I was honored and humbled to be selected as the student commencement speaker for my graduating class, which provided me the opportunity to honor my late mentor Dr. Gustavo Wensjoe.  You can see a recording of the speech that a friend of mine uploaded to YouTube below.      

"True Success" - 2009 UST Student Commencement Speech