Tony Mendoza

"Tony is the type of student that Southwestern loves to nurture because he lives into the ethos of who we are as a college. He has a desire to grow, as a person and as a leader, and he cares deeply about serving others to make the world a better place. That combination, to me, is dynamite because the capacity for growth is exponential. Tony has an eager heart – he wants to learn more, live more, and love more."
- Molly Just, Director of Discipleship

Tony Mendoza 1Tony Mendoza only has a few minutes to talk. He’s scheduled to give a tour to a group of prospective students, and he doesn’t want to be late. 

“I didn’t take a tour,” he admits. “I just showed up a week-and-a-half before school started and enrolled.”

That’s because he felt sure he already knew Southwestern College. 

Every summer since he was 12 years old Tony had spent weekdays at the church behind his Dallas home, where a Project Transformation site was located. The group, with its mission statement that emphasizes connecting churches to communities in need, has for many years hosted Southwestern College students as summer interns. 

Tony met Molly Just, who is now campus minister at Southwestern, when she was serving as an intern for Project Transformation at his site. A few years later, after he had finished his first year at a public college in Texas, Molly convinced Tony that he needed to be at SC. The moment he set foot on campus, just days before classes began, the Texan knew he Molly had been right.

"Tony has a unique gift for bringing people together and I like to think about him as the “glue” in any group. His joy and vulnerability craft a deep space for growth in beautiful ways. His willingness to grow and share prompts others to do the same. He’s also hilarious. He knows how to navigate the serious moments while remaining light-hearted. His greatest, gift, I think, is that he has a generous spirit and is a friend to all. I don’t know how you CAN’T like Tony J! I’ve known him since he was in high school, our paths first crossed at Project Transformation when I was a college intern. When I found out that he was coming to Southwestern, I immediately knew that it would be a perfect match! I’m so glad he’s here."
- Molly Just, Director of Discipleship​

Southwestern’s emphasis on each student discovering his calling and passion soon altered his life. Originally an elementary education major, he changed his major to philosophy and religion, and now his goal is to be a minister, and serve a nonprofit group such as the one that helped him in his youth. 

Being at Southwestern, he also has had experiences he had never anticipated. Last year, for example, he took a theatre class taught by Roger Moon. As the semester ended, Moon suggested that Tony audition for a play. He since has been cast in several productions.

“I never had done theatre before, but I came to Southwestern, and I had the chance to do it,” he says. “I also started playing the guitar. I had no musical background before, but now I play in chapel with the worship team every month.

“In a school this size it’s really easy to get involved,” he says with a smile, “and to get over-involved, so I sometimes say ‘no’ when people ask me to do something.” 

Tony has plenty to do without adding more activities to the list: He’s in Discipleship, a leader in InterAct (international student group), and has an internship at Winfield’s First United Methodist Church. 

“I’ve seen that students here are intentional in their commitment to the college and to people around them,” he says, “and I want to be intentional. What comes next? I don’t know what that looks like. I’m waiting for it to show up, but I strongly feel that God has called me here. What I’m to be doing is slowly unwinding, and it will continue to stretch me."

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