Creating opportunities: Meet 2024 PNW graduate Esmeralda Mendez

May 2, 2024
Esmeralda Mendez

Esmeralda Mendez, ’24, is set to graduate with a bachelor of science degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) from the White Lodging School of Hospitality and Tourism Management in the College of Business at Purdue University Northwest (PNW). She will also earn a minor in Spanish.

As a new student at PNW, Mendez was undecided on a course of study when she attended a presentation on the HTM program. She liked the versatility the program offered and decided HTM was the major for her.

The East Chicago native was a member of the PNW chapter of Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, Inc., where she served as president, vice president and vice president of marketing, as well as mentor to new members of the organization. Through the sorority, Mendez participated in community service and fundraising events, including the Quinceañera Expo at PNW. She was instrumental in planning the 2024 Expo which provided community members an opportunity to explore a variety of vendors and services for quinceañera planning. She was also a member of TRIO Student Support Services, the HTM Club, Unidos and a teaching assistant for HTM 29100, a food service lab class.

After graduation, Mendez plans to apply to the MBA program at PNW. Looking to the future, she would like to work in higher education helping to create opportunities and engagement for first-generation and Hispanic students on college campuses.

Why did you choose to attend PNW?

“The diversity at PNW is something that I really enjoyed. I really got to experience it once I started joining organizations on campus. Everybody here is so nice.”

What did you like most about the HTM program at PNW?

“I really liked the curriculum because it touched on a bit of everything – accounting, sales, marketing, human resources and food labs. I also like the small classes, you get to know everyone.”

I really liked the curriculum because it touched on a bit of everything – accounting, sales, marketing, human resources and food labs. I also like the small classes, you get to know everyone.

Esmeralda Mendez, ‘24, Hospitality and Tourism Management

Did you have any challenges while attending PNW?

“I was a first-generation college student and scared to ask for help. My first semester in college I was trying to navigate challenges like FAFSA and just being here. I never really asked for help and was figuring it out on my own.

At one point, it was either ask for help or just keep suffering. I slowly learned the people at PNW are here to help. Iris Sanchez at Hispanic Serving Institution Initiatives put me in contact with TRIO and that’s when I started joining different organizations on campus and got to meet new people. She’s the reason I’d like to work in higher education and help students like myself find available opportunities on campus.”

What words of advice would you share with prospective students looking to attend PNW?

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help – everyone is willing to help. I wish I would have given myself that advice my freshman year. Also, don’t procrastinate.”

Was there anyone at PNW who inspired or encouraged you along the way?

Iris Sanchez

Iris Sanchez

Director of Hispanic Serving Institution Initiatives

“Iris was always there for not only me, but others as well. She is willing to help wherever she can or point you in the right direction. She’ll even lend an ear to listen.

Pitparnee Stompor

Pitparnee Stompor

Clinical Professor of HTM

“Professor Stompor pushed me to come out of my shell and get to where I am now. She pushed me to grow.”

Spring 2024 Graduate Candidate Teja Brown

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