Former Presentation athlete becoming an admissions counselor


ABERDEEN (AP) – By the time Cortni Mendoza walked across the stage at graduation, she already had her own office at Presentation College.

Mendoza graduated May 4 with a degree in communications and a minor in psychology and sports psychology, but had started working in the Presentation College admissions department about two months before. She also logged a semester as an intern in the department.

Originally from El Centro, Calif., Mendoza said she came to Presentation with her stepsister, Kassi Orozco, to play softball and earn a degree.

"That was a major deal for me," Mendoza told the Aberdeen American News.

They liked Presentation and Aberdeen because of its small size, she said.

"We could tell that the community was overall good, the campus, everybody was really friendly, they told us about the class sizes and you get a lot of one-on-one learning and teaching, so that kind of sold us," Mendoza said. "We don't have to deal with 300 kids in one classroom and maybe be lost."

After graduation, Orozco headed back to California, and Mendoza stayed in Aberdeen.

"She's kind of had a difficult time with it," Mendoza said in May. "She's like, 'I don't want to leave you, I don't want to leave my friends.' This is all we've known for four years, it'll be a little bit different, but I'm sure she'll be fine."

But Mendoza said she's excited to start adult life in South Dakota.

"I think California is very expensive and people are just very busy and go on about their days," she said. "Here, everyone's really welcoming and just curious about you and the kind of person that you are. That makes me feel a lot more comfortable and familiar with the community."

It's not just that first job. Mendoza said she had a lot of adulthood firsts this year.

"Right now, I'm the process of getting my first house. I actually got a house with a couple of my friends who are going to be seniors this year," she said. "I'm actually really excited, I got my first car this year, too. I went my whole college time without having a car, and I just got my first car a couple of months ago."

Before graduation, Mendoza said she was mostly completing menial tasks in admissions as a part-time student worker, but her duties changed when she transitioned to full time.

College admissions wasn't her first career choice.

"Originally, I wanted to go into broadcasting, which was kind of one of my bigger goals just because it's something I'd always been interested in," Mendoza said. "(Admissions) kind of fell into the category of being able to talk to students and talking to parents and just giving them information about why they should come to PC."

The skills she learned in class will be used in her career as an admissions counselor, Mendoza said.

"I'm always talking to prospective students. I get to do campus visits and just let them know reasons why they should come here and want to come here," she said.

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