Coming to the United States in high school is challenging enough but having to learn a whole new language on top of that can be an even bigger challenge.
Ernesto Mendoza-Perez, a graduating senior enrolled at East Valley Online and the Skills Center in Spokane Valley, took this challenge head-on and has been flourishing ever since his arrival in Spokane three-and-a-half years ago.
“The most difficult part was learning the language,” he said. “It is a lot easier to learn the language when you are little, so it was hard at the beginning.”
Despite these challenges and obstacles, Mendoza-Perez has been able to advance quickly and has shown vast growth in learning the English language.
“I have a teacher, Mrs. Vicker, who has helped me a lot,” Mendoza-Perez said. “I learned it a lot by hearing other people talk and have conversations, and I would listen to them and pick up words and phrases they were saying.”
Not only has Mendoza-Perez managed to learn English over the last three-and-a-half years, but he has also found his niche in what he wants to do for his career. Mendoza-Perez has a passion for auto body work, but he has never let this get in front of his core work for high school.
“He has worked hard and has taken school very seriously,” Nicole Talbert, his teacher at East Valley Online said. “Even though his passion is with fixing cars, he brings the same amount of dedication to his core subject classes as he does to his automotive courses.”
Although Mendoza-Perez has managed to flourish in his time in Spokane, it was not an easy adjustment. “It is so much different here than back in Mexico,” Mendoza-Perez said.
Leaving your home country in high school was not an easy adjustment, but Mendoza-Perez has been open to learning new ideas and new ways of doing things, while still maintaining his identity as a proud Mexican American.
Mendoza-Perez enrolled in East Valley Online this year in order to allow him more time to study automotive mechanics and to work. He has been enrolled in the Skills Center, collision repair program since he was in 11th grade, and has grown immensely in his time there.
Mendoza-Perez always knew that he wanted to get into working with cars, and body work was what he found most intriguing about working at an Auto Body shop. “I really liked body work, and this program let me do that and work more,” Mendoza-Perez said.
“Ernesto is one of the hardest working young men in the collision repair program,” his teacher said. “He is always looking for more information about industry processes and procedures.”
Mendoza-Perez was drawn to working with cars after he came in to contact with a lot of them and became really interested in the process.
From learning a new language, to learning through a pandemic, and getting the chance to work in the Skills Program, Mendoza-Perez has excelled and taken advantage of his opportunities to the fullest in Spokane.
“We are so excited to see what great things Ernesto does next,” Mary-Hope Lakin, East Valley counselor, said.
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