Mercedes Ballesteros, a junior at San Mateo High School, has excelled not only as a student and young mother, but also as an active community servant. The youngest of nine (9) children, she first came to the United States from Mexico only four years ago, as an unaccompanied pregnant twelve-year old in middle school – when many of her peers struggled to balance homework and after-school sports – she balanced schoolwork and parenthood, graduating from middle school with A’s, a rapidly increasing command of English, and a healthy son.
In high school, Mercedes has continued to balance parenthood and schoolwork, managing not only to move from ESL to college prep classes but also to work hard to help others. In school, she serves as a translator for staff and parents, becoming, in the words of her guidance counselor,” the best assistant [her school] counseling department has ever had.”
In addition to working in the school office, she participated in a study of how school culture affects students-of-color and sat on a panel presenting its results to the faculty Mercedes has won the Outstanding Bearcat Award, the McConville Award during her Freshmen and Sophomore year, and the Student of the Month Award this year. For the past two summers, she has worked as an intern at Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County, where she has similarly been one of the most reliable translators and legal assistants the organization has ever had.
After school, she works at the King Center, tutoring younger students. With quiet perseverance and maturity, Mercedes consistently earns the respect and admiration of adults and peers; she is a truly exceptional young woman.