Six years ago, SGT Daisy Mendoza found herself standing at a fork in the road. Born and raised in San Jose, California, she had recently moved back after her husband’s military career had taken them through Hawaii and San Diego.
A military wife teeming with talent and ambition, it seemed the only thing she was short on was people willing to take a chance on her.
Standing at an impasse, the options in front of Mendoza seemed to boil down to jobs lacking in trajectory, or going back to school to further study clinical psychology. The latter meant spending more money before having a chance at making any.
A woman of many talents
There is no singular way to define SGT Daisy Mendoza. She is a lover of life, a believer in herself and others, and a catalyst to help women fashion attainable goals out of their dreams.
You get the idea that for Mendoza, the various seasons of her life are no different than stops along an untraveled road waiting to be explored. Mendoza approaches the journey with dignity and tenacity, carving a path of her choosing as she makes her way through life.
Whether it’s her civilian career as a life coach, her role as a recruiter for the California National Guard, or being CEO of an online coaching program, Mendoza gives each role the whole of her heart and expertise.
She wasn’t always fond of the idea of the National Guard. In fact, there was a time when she had no idea what it was.
When a friend suggested Mendoza consider enlisting, he explained that the National Guard is the Army for the state, and that there was the possibility of a career there for her.
She hesitated at first. With two young children, she had no desire to deploy.
Once Mendoza learned she could serve locally, the seed of intrigue was sown. Having the support of her husband and children, Mendoza looked up recruiters online and found what she was looking for.
Ten days later, at the age of 31 she was signing her oath, and preparing for boot camp.
Standing on her own
Outside of her husband, Mendoza mostly kept her plans to herself toward the beginning.
“My grandmother said it wasn’t for women.” She shares. “My dad said my husband was going to find somebody else for himself.”
Doubts were voiced. Tears were shed.
Though her family eventually came around, and even attended her graduation from boot camp, Mendoza did not sit around waiting for their approval.
“It was very hard in the beginning, because everything about me felt right.” Mendoza says. “I didn’t have any second thoughts or self doubt, and I was very clear about the path I would have.”
Ultimately, Mendoza says, it did not sit well with her to be 31 years old and still waiting for the validation of other people. Confident in the choice she was making for herself and her family, Mendoza transitioned into her military career with her head held high.
With an academic background in behavioral health, Mendoza began cross-training with other medical series within the Guard.
Lauded for her ability to pinpoint the strengths of individual soldiers, it was clear to those around her that Mendoza had a knack for helping others to optimize their potential during their time in the service.
Encouraged to pursue a full time position in recruiting or retention, Mendoza put in her application and landed a job as a recruiter’s assistant.
During her first year of recruiting, Mendoza was a top ranking recruiter for her team. Three years later, she’s the top ranking recruiter for the National Guard in California, and third in the nation.
Making a priority of self care
When it comes to keeping perspective with the rest of the world, Mendoza also does the hard work to ensure she personally stays grounded. It isn’t uncommon to find her taking to the mountainside in search of solace and perspective.
“If I have a big problem and I go to the top of the mountain, when I look down it’s like, ‘How big are my problems now?’”
Nor has she forgotten her roots as a military spouse.
In addition to her official role with the National Guard, SGT Mendoza is the founder of the online coaching program, The Unstoppable Military Wife.
The program seeks to empower military wives, wherever they are. It’s a lifestyle where living in the center of often unpredictable circumstances can easily cause a spouse to lose sight of themselves.
Mendoza is well suited as a coach, not simply because she cares, but because she’s been there.
“Everything that I went through in my journey with San Diego and Hawaii, the wives I coach are going through the exact same thing where I’m like, ‘you guys are in the exact same patterns.’”
Whether viewing the world through a military or civilian lens, Mendoza is well equipped to accompany those she coaches throughout their journey.
A steadfast mentor, she does not simply guide people along. She helps them realize their own strengths, and bolsters them with the tools to confidently see themselves through.
“I think it’s important for us to sit down and look at what we always said we wanted to do, and how we can achieve that. It’s never too late.”
On the topic of mentors, Mendoza recommends looking for people who have already been through the places you’re looking to go, or who have accomplished goals similar to what you would like to do.
“Unless you want to pave a new path no one has gone through” She adds. “I say go for it. Mentoring helps.”
As far as what the future holds, SGT Mendoza is choosing to take life one thing at a time. What began as a three year stint with the National Guard, has now turned into a six year long career that shows no signs of slowing down.
Citing faith, family, and health as her pillars, Mendoza is content to let everything grow wherever it lands.
Dreams are also important to Mendoza. She firmly believes that with hard work and planning, there is very little that can stand in the way of attaining one’s dreams.