09:49 AM

Alumna Terri Clarke Mendez Reinvented Herself

Today, alumna Terri Clarke Mendez ’92 leads the Mendez Law Group in Conroe, just down the street from University of St. Thomas’s new USTMAX Center. The micro-campus is a reminder for Mendez of the beloved academic bridge she chose to take from where she used to be as a professional to where she is now.

Until 1988, Mendez had been successfully climbing the management ladder at Continental Airlines. A large and unexpected layoff announcement turned out to be a “wake-up call” for the hardworking mother. She stopped to think about the job that had been consuming her life and what she really wanted to do.

“I realized I wanted to go back to school, finish my undergrad and then go to law school,” Mendez said.

She shopped for the right university and went with her gut.

“I visited Sam Houston, then U of H, then UST,” she remembered. “But the feeling was so different at St. Thomas. They were so welcoming to returning students like me, and I could tell they really wanted me to succeed. I prayed about it, asked God for a sign, and the next day somebody came up to me at the airport, all excited that they had gone to see their child at UST and said it was the most wonderful place. That was so random. I had my sign.”

After her education at St. Thomas, which Mendez calls “phenomenal,” she went on to get her law degree from South Texas College of Law.

“UST made me amazingly prepared for law school.”

Mendez, who is a family law mediator, practices family law, the occasional criminal case and lots of work related to Children’s Protective Services.

She said, “I have a sincere passion for what I know I’m going to be able to do for them. As a mediator for family disputes when emotions are so high, I get to help bring that emotion down and find agreement points. I get them to focus on the wellbeing of the kids.”

In particular, Mendez is proud of a yoga program she founded a few years ago to help young people in the juvenile court system. “It was about helping troubled youth to form good habits. With yoga, there is a mind-body connection, such that if they move their bodies in a different way, it stimulates a different part of the brain so that counseling can be more effective. I was able to educate enough donors to fund the program and get master yoga instructors involved.”

The caring barrister has another point of pride: her attorney son, alumnus Thomas Mendez ’02, following in her footsteps. Like his mother, he is a proud Celt.