As a Montverde Academy graduate (’04) who works in the ranks of the staff here for nearly four years, it’s no surprise to hear of an alum having a positive impact on their community. Every so often we hear of an alum who is doing exceptional things, which brings us, as faculty and staff, a great sense of pride and validation in our efforts to provide a stable foundation from which they can begin to build their lives on. Mario Mendez (’14) is one of those alumni.
Arriving at MVA in 2010, Mario was seasoned in the “MVA way” by the time he was a senior. He was a prefect, actively involved in most school activities and voted by his peers to have the most school spirit. While flipping through the 2014 yearbook, it was no surprise to see a scan-able QR code linking to a video of a rap he made during the senior retreat. I even witnessed a collective, “aww I miss him” from the class of 2015 upon viewing a video that the 2014 class made for them. He was that kind of individual, one that left a void when he graduated.
Mario received the William Moore III Scholarship, which recognizes individuals who demonstrate a real sense of community and a willingness to serve. Upon graduating, he took those qualities to the University of South Florida (Go Bulls) where he was a member of the United States Air Force ROTC program. While at USF, he served as the Physical Fitness Officer, Element Leader, IMT Flight Commander, Cadet Training Assistant, Operations Group Commander, and Vice Wing Commander.
Fast forward four years to Mario graduating Cum Laude from USF with a bachelor’s degree in criminology and a minor in psychology and aerospace studies. He was recognized as the top ROTC graduate at USF, and honored as a Distinguished Graduate of AFROTC, an honor only ten percent of ROTC grads nationally can claim. Mario has also been nominated as USAF Cadet of the Year, of which only three cadets nationally are honored with, and has been ranked the number one cadet in the southeast region, one of four national regions. He is currently a Pilot Select and a USAF Recruiter at the University of Central Florida.
Mario credits much of his success to the environment that MVA provided during his time here. The education at MVA may have provided some strategies for success, but it is his innate sense of community, drive and passion to succeed that have made him an indispensable part of the community he is a part of!
We congratulate Mario on his success, and look forward to an Eagle alum protecting us from the sky!