Paola Mendoza-Yu

Head of Product Design
A bit about Paola...

I am a first-generation American, daughter of immigrants and grew up in South Central Los Angeles, California. I've had a lifelong obsession with technology and creativity that I eventually connected the dots on. At the age of 12 I was gifted a computer that came bundled with Photoshop Elements and have been designing (whether I knew it or not) since then. I strongly believe that access (to tools and information) and expectations (that you will succeed) can be life changing for every child. I have been designing professionally for over 16 years. Prior to Curious Cardinals, I led design for teams at companies like Square and GoGuardian.

Book a consultation call with Paola

What piece of advice would you give parents with unengaged students?

Growing up is a funny thing, we never really stop doing it. It can be easy to assume that if you're older you have a pretty good understanding of what someone younger than you might be going through. But the world is changing so quickly and our kids are experiencing things we never imagined. Give them space to explain what they're going through and meet them where they are. Connect the dots between the things they already love and the life skills they'll need to succeed in this ever changing world.

What was the most surprising part of the college experience for you?

The autonomy. I definitely was not prepared to not be treated like a child. I was only the second person in my family to attend college and didn't know that I should ask questions about what to expect. Eventually that same autonomy became a freedom unlike any other, but for a while it was so overwhelming I felt I didn't belong there. Would have loved to have someone to talk to about it before being dropped into the deep end.

Why is passion so important as it pertains to learning?

Passion can be such a strong driver. It can push you past the uncomfortable bits of any task, including learning, and help you find meaning on the other side.

What kind of impact would you like Curious Cardinals to have?

I'd like to look back one day and see generations of students that found their passion because of the safe space that Curious Cardinals created for them to explore. Free from judgment, fear of failure, or expectations of what "success" looks like. I'd like to know that we encouraged kids to dream a little bigger, to imagine a future for themselves they hadn't considered before. Maybe a future that involves Harvard, or Stanford, or any college at all. But maybe it just means happier, more fulfilled humans inhabiting this earth.