KIPP to USC: What I Learned my First Year at College
My KIPP journey started at KIPP Heartwood in San José and I went to KIPP San José Collegiate for high school. I like to say my family is a KIPP family because all of my siblings and I have gone to KIPP.
My school experience, especially high school, was really great. A large part of that was I had known my classmates since I was in 5th grade. So I felt very comfortable with all of my classmates and the school community. I really appreciated having that experience. I always tell people that the close community you build at KIPP is one of my favorite things about being a KIPP alum.
I always tell people that the close community you build at KIPP is one of my favorite things about being a KIPP alum
My family primarily speaks Spanish and as a first-generation college student, it made certain decisions and processes challenging. Filling out an application like FAFSA was really difficult because of the language barrier my family had. I was the only one who could to complete it. The reality of being a first-generation college student is that the people around you don’t always have a lot of experience with college and can’t pass on advice or give guidance. Signing up for classes the first time was really stressful because I was at home due to the COVID-19 lockdown and didn’t have anyone to go to for help.
That’s why one of my biggest pieces of advice is to stay in contact with your KIPP Forward Advisor and not be scared to ask for help. I’m still pretty close with a lot of my KIPP teachers and when I need advice about college, I know that they’re a text away. I’ve even FaceTimed past teachers! It’s really nice to have that extra support. It’s really nice to have that one-on-one support because in college getting time with your professor can be really difficult.
… when I need advice about college, I know that they’re a text away.
When I entered University of Southern California (USC), I was originally a psychology major pre-med mostly because I found an interest in psychology in high school. But college was a very different experience. My first semester in college was not great. I did not enjoy what I was learning so I started exploring other classes. This led me to taking a programming class in Python for my second semester. I really enjoyed coding so I started looking at majors more based in computers and that led me to my current major, Intelligence and Cyber Operations with a Minor in Forensics. So far it’s been really great and a lot better fit for me.
As I’ve gotten more comfortable with the academic work I’ve started to look at clubs I want to join. USC is a large school and in order to find people who share the same experiences as me I’ve learned that I need to put myself out there. This has been a big change from high school where not only did many of my classmates share the same cultural background I had also known many of them since I was in 5th grade.
I’m looking forward to joining more social groups because in my first year I was really focused on my academics. I think that’s part of the reason the beginning of my college journey was so stressful. But I’ve learned that part of having a healthy college experience is having a balance between social life and academics.
… part of having a healthy college experience is having a balance between social life and academics.
As I look towards graduation it’s important to me to be able to find a job in the field I am studying. This past summer as I interned for the KIPP Northern California Development team! It showed me that the hard work I put into high school and college is paying off. I want to make the people around me proud and prove to myself that I can do whatever I put my mind to.
Iduma Mendoza is currently enrolled at the University of Southern California as an Intelligence and Cyber Operations major with a Minor in Forensics. She is an alum of KIPP Heartwood and KIPP San José Collegiate. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her pets and watching movies.