Asian-American non-trad student tells story

John Hult

John Hult

Each week when Maria Chona Mendoza walks up the stairs and through the big blue door leading to Daktronics’ Electronic Assembly department, she’s greeted with a “hey, Maria, how are you” from almost all of her coworkers.

But her name, Maria, isn’t actually her proper first name.

Maria is a Catholic name referring to the Virgin Mary, much like nuns in the U.S. are called “Sister Mary so-and-so.” In the Philippines, her name is “Chona.”

But being called “Maria” doesn’t bother her. She understands.

Mendoza carries this attitude-searching for understanding-with her when she encounters what many would call blatant racism.

“I don’t like the word ‘racism,'” Mendoza said. “I look for the reasons why they are doing this to me or saying this to me. I don’t use the word ‘racist.'”

It took her a long time to adapt to life in the U.S. Eleven years ago, Mendoza moved to Watertown with her (now ex) husband.

“He was very controlling,” she said. “He didn’t want me to be who I am.”

This meant very little socializing, not going to college (which she had always hoped to do in the U.S.) and no driving. Driving became a neccessity after a while, however.

Mendoza met Ira Davis, her current fianc