Student wins Beat the Odds award from Children’s Defense Fund

Nelly Mendoza, photo courtesy Children's Defense Fund

Nelly Mendoza, photo courtesy Children’s Defense Fund

If the odds aren’t in your favor, sometimes, you can change them. Through her hard work and an iron commitment to her education, recent Davis HS graduate Nelly Mendoza has done just that.

On Thursday, May 21, the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) of Texas hosted its 16th annual Beat the Odds Awards ceremony, at which Mendoza was named one of five recipients. The award comes with a $5,000 college scholarship and other prizes to help students who have managed to find success, even in the face of significant challenges. The luncheon was sponsored by H-E-B and held at the Hilton Americas Hotel.

Mendoza’s family arrived in the United States from Honduras when she was just eight years old. She endured the stress of constantly moving, sporadic education, her father’s alcoholism, and his subsequent abuse of her mother and brother. After her father’s deportation, Mendoza attended Davis High School, where her talent and drive made her stand out.

Principal Julissa Alcantar-Martinez lauded Mendoza’s many achievements, be they holding down a job since the age of 14, graduating with a 4.42 GPA, or playing on the school softball team.

“She is like a firecracker,” said Alcantar-Martinez. “She doesn’t sit back and wait for things to come to her; she goes to things, looks into every opportunity and takes advantage of what will help her grow as a person. I see her reaching her dreams and helping others in her same situation.”

Mendoza plans to study aerospace engineering at the University of Texas in the fall. Alisa Hamilton of Bellaire High School was also honored as a Beat the Oddsaward winner.

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