“It was the only place that was hotter than Patterson,” Menchaca said this week with a laugh.
But his opinion changed upon later visits, and he has thrived at Fresno State as president of several campus clubs and as a student senator representing the College of Social Sciences — all while maintaining a 3.93 grade point average.
Next year, he will enhance his influence on the 22,000-student campus even further after being elected March 21 as student body president.
Menchaca received 47 percent of 1,773 votes cast for president of Associated Students, Inc. while running against two other candidates in an election that set a record for the highest voter turnout in the campus’ history.
He said his campaign team had worked hard, but he was still amazed to be declared the winner at a ceremony where election results were announced.
“When I heard my name, I was dazed and confused,” Menchaca said.
Looking ahead, he hopes to focus on campus security, increase student involvement and create a smooth transition for incoming student senators. He also aims to solicit the opinions of fellow students on a variety of topics including a university-wide commitment to purchase digital textbooks.
“Being ASI president, I really have to be the bridge between the college president and his goals and the college and their goals,” he said.
Menchaca, the son of Christy Menchaca and John Menchaca, has had plenty of opportunity to get to know fellow students during his three years on campus. He serves as president of the Phi Alpha Delta pre-law professional fraternity as well as president of the college’s Moot Court program and the Fresno State Gun Club, which he co-founded. Students on the Moot Court team prepare for and argue a mock appellate court case against other teams.
Menchaca also co-founded the college’s chapter of Young Americans for Liberty and helped revive the campus’ Fresno State College Republicans in addition to being involved in several other clubs.
All the while, he has earned enough credits to be a senior during his three years of college, racking up 25 units during one semester. He is seeking a bachelor’s degree in political science and minors in business, animal science and philosophy. He also hopes to attain certificates in legal studies and cross-cultural competency.
To maintain his busy schedule, Menchaca said he relies on information posted on four whiteboards and three calendars that he keeps in his room.
“Everything is like clockwork,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot of time management skills.”
Menchaca’s girlfriend, fellow 2010 Patterson High graduate Lindsey Fidler, also has stayed involved. She was reelected last week as a senator representing the college’s Kremen School of Education. Like Menchaca, she also belongs to the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the Golden Key International Honour Society, both of which honor students who excel academically.
Menchaca jokingly referred to her this week as both a senator and the first lady.
Looking ahead, Menchaca hopes to attend law school at Stanford University and eventually hopes to serve in public office in some capacity, whether it be at the local, state, federal or even international level.
Gina Wallace, a political science professor at Fresno State and head of the college’s Moot Court team, said she is confident Menchaca will achieve his goals.
“Over the years, I’ve watched students come and go, and very few stand out like this,” she said. “He’s a true standout among his peers.”
She described Menchaca as one of the most intelligent men she had ever met and also noted his morals, “family values” and Christian faith.
“He is a very genuine person,” Wallace said. “In this day and age, it’s very hard to find someone who knows who they are, and he (does).”
Wallace also credited Menchaca with strong public speaking skills, saying she wants to get him to speak at public events in the greater Fresno area this year. Those oratory skills will likely serve him in other ways as well, as Wallace expects he will be a strong contender in the western regional moot court finals in Long Beach in December and will likely go on to the national competition.
“I think the people of Patterson are going to be really proud of where this young man goes,” Wallace said.
Menchaca said he often referenced his hometown during his campaign, jokingly telling fellow students that Patterson had a smaller population than Fresno State. He said he has appreciated local community support, noting that more than 100 of the 270 “likes” on his campaign’s Facebook website came from Patterson residents.
“One of the great things about being from Patterson is that it’s such a close-knit community,” Menchaca said.
• Jonathan Partridge can be reached at 892-6187, ext. 26, or firstname.lastname@example.org.