CSU, Chico

Jorge Mendoza, Animal Science

Jorge Mendoza, Animal Science

Senior animal science major Jorge Mendoza is well known for his success within the College of Agriculture. So it may come as a surprise to learn that his original intention was to work in the pharmaceutical industry.

Mendoza grew up in Willows, California, and is the oldest of four siblings. His father works for the Willows School District and supervises a local grocery store meat department, and his mother owns a cleaning business.

After being involved in all sorts of community outreach clubs and sports teams as well as his local FFA chapter in high school, Mendoza had every intention of attending CSU, Chico to pursue a career as a pharmacist. Shortly after arriving at CSU, Chico, he jumped into campus life, participating in many of the activities and clubs offered on campus. Becoming a part of the Freshman Leadership Opportunity (FLO) program was a huge stepping stone for Mendoza. After a year of leadership development and growth in the program, he became one of FLO’s five facilitators the following year. Mendoza also ran for community affairs commissioner within Associated Students his sophomore year while taking part in the Wildcat Leadership Institute.

“Being a part of that experience, pushing myself and putting myself out there made me grow as a person,” Mendoza said.

When it came to academics, he took a full course load in biology to accompany his extracurricular activities and clubs. Pursuing a major in biology and eventually working toward becoming a pharmacist was the original game plan for Mendoza until his experience working for a friend’s family dairy in 2010 shifted his focus. When a friend’s grandfather became ill, Mendoza stepped up to the plate to take on chores and work as a farm hand. He found himself enjoying the time he spent milking, feeding, and looking after the cattle. Later that year, he interned for a veterinary clinic in Orland, which further solidified his passion for veterinary sciences. With both of these experiences under his belt, Mendoza knew that he had to change his major to animal science.

Jorge credits much of his growth to professors within the College of Agriculture at CSU, Chico. Animal science professor Celina Phillips was the first person Mendoza met in the College of Agriculture after switching his major.

“I came in lost and went to talk to Dr. Phillips,” he said. “We talked about nutrition, veterinary medicine, drug sales, and she steered me into the direction I’m going now.”

Next, Mendoza reached out to Professor Cindy Daley, who hired him to work at the Organic Dairy Unit at the University Farm. Mendoza said Daley keeps him on track. “She still reminds me not to take on more than I can handle and always checks on my classes and how I am doing,” he said.

Mendoza also gives thanks to Dr. Brad Dodson for providing him leadership and facilitation skills that he has used throughout his courses here at CSU, Chico.  

When he’s not at school, Mendoza is working at Leonardo Dairy in Bayliss, California, the same place that sparked his love of agriculture. He milks cows, feeds, irrigates, regulates breeding schedules, and takes care of the calves. Attending concerts and hunting doves, ducks, and deer are his hobbies outside of school. After earning his bachelor’s degree, Mendoza would like to pursue a doctorate in veterinary medicine at Texas A&M, University of California, Davis, or North Carolina State with the ultimate goal of becoming a large-animal veterinarian.

The most important lesson Mendoza says he has learned at CSU, Chico is, “Even though you’re here to strive for greatness and success, don’t think doing it all at once is going to allow you to succeed. Focus on your interests and put your best into three or four projects.”