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ISF Student / Claudia M.

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Claudia Mendez.fwClaudia M.

Hometown:  San Francisco, CA

Attending School:  San Francisco State University

Major:  Comparative World Literature

Claudia’s mother and father were refugees from the civil war in El Salvador.  Her father eventually returned to El Salvador leaving her mother and Claudia to continue in the U.S.  Due to the impact of the war on her mother, she would shelter Claudia from the outside world.  Claudia found herself the victim of emotional and physical abuse by her mother and her mother’s boyfriend.  Those close to Claudia noticed the abuse and complained to higher authorities.  Claudia was so afraid of her mother’s reaction that she would tell the authorities that nothing was wrong.  At age 16 witnesses filed a complaint after seeing the abuse and Claudia finally decided to admit the truth.  Immediately she was placed in foster care and has never seen nor spoken to her mother since then.  A school counselor agreed to become her foster mother and today they remain very close and credits her for the life she has today.

The Special Achievements of Claudia are numerous:  She is a member of Fostering Art where her works have appeared in local galleries and published in a compilation exhibit book; she was secretary and tutor for the John O’Connell After School Program which supports other foster youth with academic issues, college information, and application assistance; completed a 2 year internship with Honoring Emancipated Youth (HEY!) and joined the Emancipated Youth Advocacy Board (EYAB) as a youth advocate and trainer.  Presenter at a forum for adults on “Dispelling the Myths of Foster Youth and How to Utilize Your Skills when Working with Under-served Youth”; involved in Transition Age Youth (TAY), statewide legislative reform and was the President of Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) where she started an on-campus program called Fostering CommUNITY.  Its’ mission is to outreach to not only foster youth on campus but also to youth who are homeless, abandoned, or neglected; she is a recipient of the David and Emily Scott Pottruck Foster Youth Advocacy Award and a Spanish Life Instructor!  Claudia also started a lunch group called The Resilient Youth; a group for foster youth to meet others who have been in similar situations.

Claudia currently attends San Francisco State University where her major is Comparative World Literature with a minor in Spanish.  After graduation she would like to attend law school and become a Dependency Lawyer for foster youth.