The salutatorian of Glen Rose High School’s Class of 2020 didn’t have to look far for an excellent scholastic role model.

Joel Mendoza earned the No. 2 ranking with a grade-point average of 104.608. One of his sisters, Andrea Mendoza, was the GRHS salutatorian in 2018.

And Joel, like his sister, will attend Texas A&M University. He plans to major in environmental geo science.

He noted that his No. 1 driving force to do well in school came from his parents, Joel and Irma Mendoza.

“My motivation has been my parents,” said Joel, who is a native of Glen Rose. “They didn’t have the resources I have. They just wanted to put me in a position where I could succeed.”

Joel is a crane operator and his mother is a homemaker. They also have another daughter, 25-year-old Karina Mendoza, who studied cosmetology at Hill College after graduating from GRHS.

When he received the official word from Principal Kelly Shackelford about being the salutatorian, Mendoza said that the first thing he thought of was, “All that hard work has finally paid off.”

He added, “There were times when it got stressful, but I knew in the end it would pay off.”

He said he couldn’t name just one favorite subject in school, but it was a tossup between science and math. His least favorite was social studies.

As for his eventual occupation goal, Joel said, “Right now I don’t know specifics, but I just know I want to work in natural conservation.”

He explained that he wants to “find alternatives from the fossil fuels, and find more environmentally friendly alternatives.”

Mendoza said that he and valedictorian Drew Dunson are good friends, not only from taking several classes together but also from the fact they both attend St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church.

In addition to being a National Honor Society member, Mendoza is secretary of the school’s Workforce Industry Training program. Up until this year, he was a member of FFA.

Mendoza participated in UIL academic events all four years in high school. He was the 2019 UIL state champion in copy editing.

As a ninth-grader, Mendoza was a member of the GRHS freshman boys basketball team.

Once he arrives in College Station and officially joins his sister as an Aggie, Mendoza said, “I’ll definitely be homesick, but having my sister there will probably make it less difficult.”