Creating Opportunities: Meet Esmeralda Mendez, 2024 PNW Graduate

Esmeralda Mendez, 24, is set to graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) from the White Lodging School of Hospitality and Tourism Management in the College of Business at Purdue University Northwest ( PNW). She will also obtain a minor in Spanish.

As a new student at PNW, Mendez was undecided about her course of study when she attended a presentation on the HTM program. She liked the versatility the program offered and decided HTM was the specialty for her.

The East Chicago native was a member of the PNW chapter of Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, Inc., where she served as president, vice president and vice president of marketing, as well as a mentor to new members of the organization . Through the sorority, Mendez has participated in community service and fundraising events, including the Quinceañera Expo in PNW. She was instrumental in planning Expo 2024, which gave community members the opportunity to explore a variety of vendors and services for quinceañera planning. She has also been a member of TRIO Student Support Services, HTM Club, Unidos and a teaching assistant for HTM 29100, a food services laboratory course.

After graduation, Mendez plans to apply to PNW’s MBA program. Looking to the future, she would like to work in higher education helping to create opportunities and engagement for first-generation and Hispanic students on college campuses.

Why did you choose to participate in PNW?

“The diversity at PNW is something I have really appreciated. I was really able to experience this once I started joining organizations on campus. Everyone here is so nice.

What did you like most about PNW’s HTM program?

“I really liked the program because it covered a little bit of everything: accounting, sales, marketing, human resources and food laboratories. I also like the small classes, you get to know everyone.

Did you encounter any difficulties participating in PNW?

“I was a first-generation college student and afraid to ask for help. My first semester of college, I was trying to complete challenges like FAFSA and just being here. I never really asked for help and found the solution on my own.

At some point it was either ask for help or just continue to suffer. I slowly learned that the people of PNW are here to help. Iris Sanchez from Hispanic Serving Institution Initiatives connected me to TRIO and that’s when I started joining different organizations on campus and meeting new people. This is why I would like to work in higher education and help students like me find the opportunities available on campus.

What advice would you share with future students interested in attending PNW?

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help – everyone is willing to help.” I wish I had given myself this advice my first year. Also, don’t procrastinate.

Is there anyone at PNW who has inspired or encouraged you along your journey?

Iris Sanchez


“Iris has always been there not only for me, but also for others. She is ready to help you wherever she can or point you in the right direction. She will even lend an ear to listen.

Pitparnee Stompor


“Professor Stompor pushed me to come out of my shell and get to where I am now. She pushed me to grow.