Abraham Mendoza’s former teachers might not recognize him now.
The self-described “loudmouth” and “joker” had to cut his long, curly hair for a 40-hour a week job as a production worker at Oak Cliff-based Pecan Deluxe confectionary.
Abraham landed the job as part of the company’s partnership with Dallas Can Academy. Pecan Deluxe hired about 12 students from the school, paying $10.50 an hour and creating a shift just for them, from 2-10:30 p.m.
As dramatic as the haircut is, it’s the attitude adjustment that separates Abraham from his past as a second-time sophomore at a Dallas ISD high school, where he earned a lengthy disciplinary record for verbal confrontations with teachers.
Adamson High School, where Abraham applied for its automotive program, wouldn’t allow him to transfer.
His 26-year-old uncle finished high school at Dallas Can and now owns a roofing company. So Abraham enrolled there with just 12 of the 26 credits he needed to graduate, and something to prove.
“He’s one of my good ones,” says Abraham’s adviser Nidia Machuca. “He’s very focused on what he wants in life. He’s a very good kid.”
Abraham, who comes from a preaching family, is a Pentecostal music minister who plays drums and piano and sings. He dreams of working in the automotive industry and is proud of his self-discipline, always on time to school and work. He started a grunge band with his buddies and does MMA workouts in his spare time. He graduates in June.
“I appreciate the teachers who doubted me,” he says. “I’ve apologized to those teachers, and I’m proud of what I’ve done here.”