Born in San Diego to a Native-American Mexican American and a Mexican immigrant, Mercedes spent her first three years in a Chula Vista barrio. In 1993, her family relocated up to Paradise, CA, where her mother enrolled her and her 3 siblings in Kindergarten at the local parochial, St. Thomas More Catholic School. A background in Roman Catholic ideology saw her volunteering her time for community causes at a very early age, starting by working the game booths in 2002 for Johnny Appleseed Days.
In 2004, her family detoured further north toward Red Bluff, where she bussed tables for the Splendor in the Valley fundraiser two years in a row while attending Mercy Catholic High School. She participated in ensemble casting for Mercy’s productions of Pirates of Penzance and Guys & Dolls. The last two years of High School were spent reading textbooks cover-to-cover out of HomeTech Charter School in Paradise while she and her sister took courses from Shasta and Butte College concurrently. Amid all the academia, Mercedes found herself determined to move back toward Chico and become more involved in the arts, focusing on Vocal Performance, Ballroom Dancing, and Community Theater.
In 2007, Mercedes was cast in her first Musical Theater show in Chico (High School Musical) where she sang and danced to her heart’s content. She then traveled to Eastern Australia as a Student Ambassador with People to People the summer of her 17th birthday. Upon her return, she endeavored to remain local and invest time in her community while registering for the Honors Program at California State University, Chico. The summer after high school graduation Mercedes traveled to the People’s Republic of China with a close friend who was native to the area. They stayed with his friends and family for 3 months, visiting both the big cities, major tourist destinations, and what can only be described as concrete towns and rural villages. One week after their return, the two found a cheap apartment together on North Cedar Street in Chico, where she began her Freshman year of college.
While at University, she participated in Community Action Volunteers in Education (CAVE), became involved with the International Students Association, and founded the “Karaoke Club”. She pursued a Bachelor’s in Philosophy, declaring a minor in Ethics, Justice, & Policy, earning a spot on the Dean’s Honors List. She was hired on as the Personal Assistant to the Head of the Honors Department before filing a leave of absence to spend more time with her family.
In 2010 she began work for the ARC of Butte County as a Respite Care Provider at the request of a dear friend. Mercedes continues to offer aid and support to this family on an as-needed basis.
A brief stint in the California Conservation Corps allowed her ample time to distinguish herself as an active volunteer in the community, being awarded a scholarship from AmeriCorps for over 250 total volunteer hours logged in 2012. She received a promotion to Acting Crew Leader during the harsh 2012 California Fires, earning a Class-B Commercial Driver’s License to help coordinate support for Firefighters and HotShots at the Sites-Complex and Colusa Fairgrounds supply camps. During this time she began active involvement with the Stream Team: Citizen Water Monitoring Project and the City of Chico’s Park Watch volunteer initiative, where she gave her time for 6 years.
In the fall of 2012, she chose to extract her passions from the CCC, filing a detailed 22-page formal complaint against the organization for workplace discrimination based on sex and retaliation for whistleblowing. It would be over 3 years before she saw the success of this complaint to the EEOC in the form of written admission of guilt from CCC administrators. To process this difficult time, Mercedes began studying the Korean Martial Art of Tae Kwon Do under Grandmaster Farshad Azad. Spring 2013 brought with it an age of increased inner reflection and the integration of T’ai Chi Ch’uan into her meditative practice, moving away from hard-arts. Mercedes reached out once more as a volunteer usher and concessions worker to local theaters and resumed her interest in vocal performance. This networking led to a 2013 invitation to serve as the youngest member [ever] of the Board of Directors for the Theatre on the Ridge in Paradise. Mercedes accepted the role of Secretary for the 40 year Non-Profit Agency and remained with them until July 2018.
As April 2013 began, Mercedes sold her car and bought a bike. She jumped into local efforts to study and increase food security in the Chico area, especially in unincorporated Chapmantown. She was hired as the Assistant Market Manager for the Certified Farmers’ Market; and later with the North Valley Community Foundation as an independent contractor for the “Cultivating Community” grant. At the same time, Mercedes was creating much of the original paperwork and forms for the Downtown Ambassadors, working and training new volunteers under the direction of Bill Such and Jovanni Tricerri, and attending Chico City Council Meetings in preparation to run for City Council in 2016. By the end of 2013, Mercedes detached herself from her role in Chapmantown and stepped aside to make way for a new direction in the Downtown Ambassadors.
For the next 3 years, she worked as a Floor Supervisor for a local North Indian quick-service restaurant. July 2016 saw the professional relationship at the restaurant deteriorate alongside the hours. She quit her job and filed paperwork to run for City Council. August 1st 2016 Mercedes started a new job as an early morning barista beside City Hall and was brought on as a paid intern for the CA Urban Streams Alliance. She resumed her position as a Respite Care Provider with the ARC of Butte County and took up her passions for Ballroom dancing, social activism, and vocal performance once again. She joined a local band called “Channel 66,” covering 60s Folk-Rock and British Invasion tunes alongside her boyfriend, Dallas, and their friend, Annie.
November 2016 came and went; Mercedes was not elected. She had spent absolutely no money on her campaign for City Council, outside of the minimum amount required to print her statement in the Voter Ballots. She accepted no donations and relied entirely on word-of-mouth and grassroots activism. Mercedes was able to maintain her integrity and stand by her ideals, earning the votes of 5,273 people in the City of Chico without needing to buy them. She refused to clutter the internet with a brand new website or e-mail address for her campaign, instead offering the community a chance to view her as she was – by including links to her facebook page, online blog, and personal cell phone number.
In January of 2017, Mercedes returned to higher education, enrolling at Butte College, a local community college where she felt she could get her feet wet again after 5 years being out. She earned straight A’s, and returned to CSU Chico in Fall of 2018 as a Sociology Major.
September 2018 was the debut of her first stint in a local theater production for a musical theater show known as “Radioland.” In it, she portrayed a singing character who has her face painted for Dia de Muertos.