Pulitzer Prize 2016
Our very own “Pulitzer” prize is presented to Sylvia Mendoza for her dedication to Traveler Publications. Traveler Publications has been promoting the Best of Mexico in its annual glossy presentations and distributing them all over the world for the past 17 years.
Sylvia has served as Senior Editor for Traveler Publications for the past five years. An award winning writer, growing up a Navy brat, Sylvia lived in different versions of paradise like Hawaii, Guam, San Diego and – later in life – Puerto Rico. Through all those travels and more over the years, she found peace in tropical weather, soothing beaches and in the magnificence of the ocean’s temperament. Being uprooted as a kid, her constant sources of entertainment and comfort were reading, writing in diaries, learning about different cultures, and the fine art of people watching.
“Island living was simple, beautiful and grounding,” says Sylvia. “I can still close my eyes and picture the serenity I felt in each of the islands. It washes over me and calms me.” While it was difficult leaving extended family behind in mostly California and Texas, watching her parents embrace new adventures while holding onto tradition helped Sylvia take note. “It’s amazing to think my parents left their little hometown in Texas without looking back,” says Mendoza. “It couldn’t have been easy, but with their attitude and optimism, they opened up an incredible gift to my brother and me.”
It was this appreciation of diversity and thirst for knowledge of new experiences that led to Sylvia’s passion for storytelling. The combo led her to write professionally, earning bachelors and master’s degrees in journalism along the way. Firmly believing that every person has a story to tell, writing profiles and features stories – people stories – became her passion.
When she wrote The Book of Latina Women: 150 Vidas of Passion, Strength, and Success, it changed her life. “I was inspired and humbled by the women I researched and some that I was lucky enough interview. I wondered if I was doing enough with my life, just by writing. With a lot of reflection, I came to peace knowing that writing was my calling, my purpose.” The book went on to be selected for the 2007 Collection for California High Schools and won first place in the “Best Women’s Issues” category of the 2013 International Latino Book Awards.
Sylvia also teaches journalism and media studies at the college level, promoting the power of the written word. She wants young people to know their voice matters. “If you can write well or express yourself well, your perspective can be heard – and you can succeed at just about anything.”
This belief affected her three children. All are college educated, are extremely good writers, musicians with their own passions and a sense of wanderlust. She hopes they continue along that path.
Now an award-winning journalist and author, Sylvia knows that the serenity she feels from tropical beaches also comes in waves from writing: writing articles inspires her, writing non-fiction educates her and writing women’s fiction frees her.
Her next big adventure will take her to Italy for a summer writer’s retreat where she will work on her latest novel. When she has to get away from her computer and get the blood flowing, running near beaches is her favorite stress release. Spin classes, salsa dancing, live music, and dreams of more traveling can also do the trick – but she always comes home to San Diego, her peaceful haven – for now.