Karina Mendez grew up in La Puente, CA with her parents who instilled her strong foundation of faith and value in education. Leaving their education, however, her parents immigrated from Mexico before Karina was born to give her better opportunities for her future. Karina became a first-generation college student and attended Loyola Marymount University (LMU) where she majored in Natural Science and Biology. Her love for science and passion to help students discover their potential drove her desire to become a middle school teacher. Karina continued her education and joined Partners in Los Angeles Catholic Education (PLACE) Corps, a LMU teaching corps program, as she received a Master of Arts in Secondary Education and a California Single Subject Teaching Credential. She served at San Miguel Catholic School in Watts, CA, for five years as the 6th-8th Math and Science Teacher and fell in love with Catholic Education.
Keeping her faith at the center of all, Karina, then, followed her call into Catholic school leadership and became a part of the first Onward Leaders cohort. Karina completed her year of residency at St. Turibius School and was blessed to also begin her journey as Principal at St. Turibius. Karina has been a Mentor Principal to Jessica Reddick (Cohort 3), Alejandra Alvarez (Cohort 4), Audrey Blanchette (Cohort 5) and looks forward to continuing her journey with Onward Leaders as a consultant and support system for all cohorts.