‘It was never just a phase’

From USC to LAFC: Gloria Mendoza’s trailblazing journey.

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Gloria Mendoza’s love for soccer started when she was able to kick a ball, and it never faded away. While her friends saw it as a hobby, Mendoza had bigger aspirations beyond just kicking the ball. Mendoza was determined to pursue her passion for sports despite the fact that her family thought of her passion as a phase.

It was never just a phase for Mendoza.

Born and raised in Santa Ana, California, Mendoza knew from an early age that she loved soccer. Her parents mostly supported her interest in sports, although members of her family mainly considered it a “phase” and assumed she would eventually grow out of it. Little did they know that her passion for sports would take her places beyond their wildest dreams.

Mendoza graduated from USC in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in communication and a minor in photography. As a visual person, she was drawn to the art of photography and journalism. For two years, she was also an editor at Dímelo, a campus publication.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted Mendoza’s plans to study abroad, causing her to miss out on an opportunity to participate in the International Communication’s Studies program through USC Annenberg. However, not wanting to give up on her dreams of traveling to Europe, Gloria decided to pursue her master’s degree in Spain during the 2021 fall semester.

Spain provided Mendoza with opportunities that catapulted her career and, ultimately, her confidence. Being behind the camera for Real Madrid and Real MadridTV, Mendoza expanded her portfolio, shooting images for the soccer club while being able to cover stories in person. So much so that after receiving her degree, Mendoza stayed back a few months, where she emerged herself in the sport and culture of fútbol.

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When she returned home, Mendoza knew she wanted to pursue a career in sports. Being a first-generation Mexican American, pursuing a career in sports was not the traditional path her family expected. It almost felt unattainable, but Mendoza used her network to help promote herself and landed a job with the Brand and Community street team as a community relations assistant, focusing on direct marketing for LAFC.

Mendoza finds joy in engaging with fans during game days and boosting the atmosphere of the team’s community. “It doesn’t feel like you’re working,” she said. You will never hear her complain because she’s able to be behind the scenes and even behind the camera for the reigning soccer team.

Mendoza’s love for sports and photography has taken her on an unexpected journey filled with challenges, hard work, and dedication. Yet despite her obstacles, Mendoza’s determination to pursue her passions has allowed her to achieve her goals and make a mark in the industry. Her family and friends back home are amazed by her accomplishments and proud of her for going far beyond what they thought was possible.

Looking back on her journey, her story shows that following your passions may be challenging but always worthwhile. ”If your little self is proud of you now, then you know it was worth it,” Mendoza said.