“My sister reached out two weeks ago, and she just sent me a GoFund me page asking ‘Hey can you please share this? We are trying to raise money.'”
This is how Estefany Mendez, a BYU-Idaho alumna, heard about Herlindo and sprung to action reaching out to various organizations such as United Farm Workers and American Civil Liberties Union. With no concrete help, she found her way back to Rexburg to find out more.
Herlindo, an 86 year old man from Guerrero, Mexico has been living in Rexburg for as long as he can remember. He lives in a rundown trailer and can often be found riding his bike around town even at his old age. Mendez made it her mission to find any family members that could claim him and help from anyone willing to improve his quality of life.
Mendez graduated from BYU-I in 2010 and since has moved up in the world of journalism, currently working for CBS San Francisco as a news writer.
Before graduating BYU-I, Mendez was a member of Scroll staff, as the main producer of a Spanish newscast. Although some doubted the newscast would do well, she succeeded in recruiting students to fill positions on camera, editing and anchoring.
After serving a mission in the Salt Lake City South Mission, Mendez returned and settled in Park City, Utah.
“I was a video journalist, so I worked on more like entertainment pieces, so I was doing the Sundance festival and a lot of winter sports,” Mendez said. “I would go shoot stuff and edit my own stuff, and for the show that they had, like locally, I did a lot of editing and sometimes helped with audio. Things I already knew how to do from college.”
The course for Mendez towards her current position continued after she joined a 21-day pilgrimage from Sacramento to Bakersfield advocating for undocumented immigrants in the Bay Area.
After putting together a brief documentary of her journey, she was invited to do a short interview about her experience with Univision, an American-based Spanish television network. She was later invited to join their team in Sacramento in the creative service department and eventually moved up as a producer.
During one of her stories, she flew to Mexico to report on undocumented youth. One story, in particular, was about a young man from Las Vegas who self-deported with his family to stay together, even though he had already graduated in the states and was offered good job opportunities. This story got her nominated for an Emmy, which she won.
“I realized that I wanted to fully focus on news and the news industry,” Mendez said. “So, after the seven years in Sacramento — that day that I won the Emmy — one of my mentors who used to be the main anchor of Univision in San Francisco reached out to me and said, ‘Hey! I think you’re ready to move to a bigger market; there is a position opening up. Would you consider applying?’ I didn’t think I was good enough.”
After almost six years at Univision in Sacramento, Mendez felt she needed to go somewhere else and a few interviews and prayers later, she landed her current job at CBS in San Francisco.
“One of the main reasons why I left Univision is because, for a bit, they had me Sundays off and then they put me back on Sundays, so I would go to church and then rush out and then head to work,” said Mendez. “So, it just wasn’t working enough for me, so there is a time when you just have to decide, ‘is this really what I want?'”
In any type of career, being a member of the Church can become difficult, but Mendez advised to make it clear that your faith is important, especially during the interview process, which is something she made sure to mention when she interviewed for CBS.
Mendez’s journey into journalism began on this very campus, and her return to the Rexburg community portrays the great good BYU-I alumni can do even years after leaving this town.
“I enjoyed my time here and, like I said, it gave me the tools and skills that I needed to go beyond,” Mendez said. “So I think — in a way — Rexburg itself and the campus and the people have a special place in my heart.