By Donna Parker
Belinda Menchaca ’84, program manager for the Guadalupe Cultural Center in San Antonio, believes in staying connected – to her culture, her students, and most importantly, her roots in dance.
“We have discovered a way through something very enjoyable to keep our children connected to traditional Mexican heritage by preserving folkloric and flamenco dance,” says this energetic dancer who has devoted 14 years of her life to the Guadalupe.
“The Dance Company includes choreographers and workshops encouraging creative expression through dance, based on social context and bi-cultural themes by composers from the U.S. and Mexico.”
The productions pull students from the dance school to star in the dance productions and most of them come from lower socio-economic families, so funding remains an issue, according to Belinda, the first child in her own family to graduate from college.
“I came out with something so valuable from Trinity. The level of academics I received was outstanding and has enabled me to act as a role model for these young dance students.”
Belinda actually holds a degree in journalism and worked actively as a public relations executive for several years. She remains in touch with professor Sammye Johnson in the department of communication, of whom she extols, “I had a magazine writing class with her and she was my counselor. She was very accessible and there when I needed her. The true luxury of being in a small class and developing relationships with professors has been a wonderful advantage.”
Belinda, who’s been married for 21 years and dotes lovingly on her many nieces and nephews, says her hobby, as well as her vocation, is dance.
“My life is my dance, so in my free time, I do dance workshops and conferences.”
Belinda spends 12 hours a day at the Guadalupe.
“Sunday, I take the liberty of coming in at 10,” she says, laughing. “I live and breathe and dream the work that I do here. Guadalupe has been very significant in the lives that it touches.”
“I feel very fortunate that I was able to attend a school such as Trinity with its incredible reputation. Those opportunities still are not readily available in my community. I hope that because I am a graduate and can serve as a role model, others will see how achievable it is.”