The Mendoza family is a farmworker family. Alonso’s father, Rogelio, has been planting and harvesting in the fields for more than 30 years. Alonso joins his dad during the summers spending long hours picking lettuce and strawberries.
“You get home … and you don’t even want to talk to nobody,” Alonso recalls. “I would fall asleep on the floor … then wake up and it’s already time to go back to work. ”Experiencing that kind of manual labor motivated Alonso to graduate from high school.
He says “teenagers who drop out of school tend to work in three places: the mall, a fast-food restaurant or the fields. (Young people) don’t see themselves doing something big in life,” he says. “They get paid $10 an hour and they settle for that.”