Jennifer Rangel Mendoza is just beginning her high school career, but she is already laying the foundation for a life of leadership.
Jennifer, 14, is a Council Bluffs native and a freshman at Abraham Lincoln High School. She attended Kirn Middle School and Bloomer Elementary School before arriving at A.L. for her first year of high school just a couple of weeks ago. Like many new students, Jennifer said she is still getting used to the next step in her educational career.
“So far, so good,” she said. “I’m a little overwhelmed, but I think it’s just me getting used to the transition into high school.”
Jennifer is a cadet in the U.S. Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Unit IA-951 at A.L. She said it wasn’t until recently that she decided to sign up for the JROTC program.
She said she was just going to give it a try, but she said she quickly got involved with the various drill teams and found a new “family” at school. She said that as she’s gotten to know her peers and the JROTC staff, she has felt a sense of leadership instilled in her that she wants to grow as she works toward graduation. She said she is interested in joining the Air Force and lining up money for college after her enlistment.
Outside of JROTC, Jennifer is also a member of the Lynx cross country team. She mostly runs with the junior varsity squad, but is on the bubble of the varsity roster. Yesterday afternoon, she competed in a freshman and sophomore race across the river at Bellevue West High School.
This is her first year of cross country, but Jennifer said she’s been running for the past three years or so. She said it will be great physical conditioning for when she is out of high school and getting ready for basic training.
While Jennifer said she’s still getting used to high school life, she said it’s great to have tight circles in the JROTC and cross country programs. She said she knows her teammates will have her back and her superiors will be there to guide her on her path to becoming a leader in the community.