There is the promise of tomorrow

Jan 4, 2024Courtney Morris
Promise Partner Roberto Mendez

Double duty: Promise coordinator becomes Promise Partner

Roberto Mendez enjoys saying "no."

Parents often ask about the fine print for the Promise @ San Jac Scholarship. Income requirement? Minimum high school GPA? Financial aid qualification? It’s one of the few times a "no" makes someone grin.

The Promise @ San Jac Scholarship promises a debt-free certificate or degree to all high school graduates in San Jacinto College’s taxing district — no strings attached. Mendez, the Promise coordinator*, helps students apply and maintain eligibility until they finish their credential. Besides being a College alumnus, he is a Promise Partner, giving through the San Jacinto College Foundation to ensure the scholarship is available for years to come.

Promise Partner Roberto Mendez
Roberto Mendez
Mendez’s reasoning is simple: Financial aid made a difference for him. His parents, who didn’t go beyond middle school, wanted better for their kids but didn’t know how to help. College advisors helped Mendez fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and choose his career and transfer path. Financial aid also covered tuition and books.

Some friends weren’t so lucky. Just above the income threshold, they didn’t qualify for aid.

“They had to work more, and it took them longer to graduate because they couldn’t go full time,” he said. “Some of them didn’t even go to college because of cost.”

After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Mendez returned to San Jacinto College as an educational planner in 2016, wanting to help others achieve their goals.

In 2021, a large private donation expanded Promise @ San Jac from three pilot high schools to all in-district high schools. Mendez also transitioned from advising general students to Promise students only. Now, with two other coordinators, he oversees over 4,200 Promise Scholars. This includes offering monthly virtual coaching sessions on job interviews, university transfer, and more.

The biggest reward for Mendez? Seeing many students consider college for the first time. One Promise Scholar comes to mind. The first-generation student, primarily Spanish speaking, never pictured earning a degree. In spring 2023, he finished his natural science associate degree with a solid GPA. After working and saving, he plans to apply for the College’s surgical technology program next.

“He wants to help others,” Mendez said. “And health sciences is the path for him.”

Why is Mendez a Promise coordinator and Promise Partner? He understands the need and sees the promise in each student.

“I know the importance of financial support,” he said. “I want all students to have that opportunity. It’s an investment in our community.”

*Mendez recently accepted a new role as the College’s adult education grants director, where he continues to help the community access debt-free education.

Promise of a better tomorrow

For students who want to enter the workforce quickly and earn solid wages, the Promise @ San Jac Scholarship also covers fast-track credentials like:

  • Logistics
  • Transportation
  • Aerospace technician
  • Certified nurse aide
  • And more!

Learn how you can become a Promise Partner!

Read more stories from the Chancellor's Report to the Community

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