Rochelle Mendoza first earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in commercial arts design, with a minor in motion pictures and television, from the University of California Los Angeles, before going on to obtain certification in finance from Financial Peace University. While living in Maui, she was discovered while teaching surfing for Goofy Foot Surf School in Lahaina, Hawaii. She began her career as an actress and stunt woman in Hollywood in the 80s, from 1097 to 2017. Concurrently, she joined SAG-AFTRA, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, as an actress, master of ceremonies, and producer, and remains active with the organization to this day.
Ms. Mendoza was in over 50 TV shows like “The A-Team,” “General Hospital,” “Magnum P.I.,” and “Hooperman”; films such as “Escape from L.A.,” “Fright Night 2,” “Lethal Weapon 4,” “Blade,” “Carjack,” “Power Rangers,” “Fear of a Black Hat”; and starred in “Kickboxer” with Jean-Claude Van Damme. She was the children’s programs director for the Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center in Maui in 2003, in which she diversified the students taking classes there. She lived in Washington, D.C., from 2007 to 2010, where she continued to work as an educator in visual art and ceramics to students from 5 to 75 years old.
Ms. Mendoza taught in Washington, D.C., at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, in Maryland at the prestigious Holton Arms Private School in Bethesda, and in the art department of the Cesar Chaves Public Charter High School in Washington, D.C., where she was named a “Rock Star” Educator in 2009. She collaborated with the Washington Opera House and the Smithsonian Institute to educate her students. In 2008, her class was honored by the mayor of Washington, D.C., for spearheading a sweater drive for her ninth grade class at the Cesar Chavez Public High School in southeast Washington, D.C.
Along with her full time job, Ms. Mendoza volunteered from 1985 to 2010 as the event coordinator and master of ceremony for Twenty Outstanding Filipinos Abroad (TOFA) in Washington, D.C. She coordinated 20 exceptional Filipinos and their guests who were awarded in Washington, D.C., for merits to their communities and in their careers. Ms. Mendoza scheduled events for the group at White House Tours, the National Press Club, the Senate House, a dinner reception at the Philippine Embassy with the acting consul general of the Philippines, and the Grand Gala Award Ceremony with 600+ people in attendance under the direction of her father Nonoy Mendoza, publisher of Fil-Am Image.
One of Ms. Mendoza’s greatest achievements came during former President Bill Clinton’s administration when she lobbied for the bill H.R. 4929 in Washington, D.C., regarding more than 40,000 Amerasian children who had been abandoned by American servicemen in the Philippines when the U.S. Navy Base closed in Subic Bay and Clark Air Force Base. As a result of that lobbying, the bill was passed, allowing those abandoned children to come to the United States to be with adopted parents. In 1997, her sister Roxanne Mendoza was brutally murdered in Dallas, Texas. She was on the board of directors to help establish the RAM Foundation School in a province in the Philippines. Ms. Mendoza established the Filipino American National Action Network (FANAN) in Washington, D.C., to help the abandoned Amerasian children through fundraisers and fashion shows with Amelia Fink Designs, which specializes in evening gowns for senators’ wives and dignitaries.
In 1998, Ms. Mendoza escorted a delegation of TOFA awardees to the Philippines to take part in the inauguration of President Joseph Erap. She was the on-site coordinator for a four-day tour, then returned to Maui. Upon her return, she was a TV and commercial producer for Tropical Studios and Max Media. After her father, Nonoy Mendoza, passed away on October 16, 2010, Ms. Mendoza moved back to the island of Maui, where she joined the Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center as a visual arts educator until 2015.
During this time, Ms. Mendoza also spent several years as manager of Falcon’s Nest, which sold exquisite secondhand Asian antiques and hotel furnishing. This is where she gained her passion to restore, redesign and reuse furniture that would have been thrown away. During this time, she spent a few years as the Maui County advertising consultant for Ke Ola Magazine from 2014 to 2015 and Maui Now Magazine.
In 2017, when her son was graduating from high school, Ms. Mendoza started a seminar called “Aunty Scholarship.” Through her research to gain scholarships for her son, she contacted every high school in Hawaii and inquired about every scholarship available. She then taught students from her son’s Boy Scout troop, St. Anthony High School, Seabury, Kamehameha, Baldwin, and Maui High School how to manage applications for existing scholarships. She is extremely happy that she is continuing to help single parents like herself find alternative means of financing for college. Most of her students are Filipino, Hawaiian, Japanese, Portuguese and Caucasian from lower-income families.
In 2019, Ms. Mendoza joined Ohana Furnishings, where she excelled as a retail sales manager and later established the Maui Furniture Gallery from 2020 to 2022, where she sold to the community of 900 hotel rooms of furniture from renovations at the Westin Time Share, Grand Wailea, Ritz-Carlton and several smaller hotels that had liquidated furniture that would have otherwise ended up in landfills. Through her business in 2020, she gave away hundreds of microwaves and refrigerators to first responders and assisted many displaced locals with mattresses, dressers and couches. She gave away furniture to local nonprofit organizations, who would otherwise not have chairs, and mirrors to dance studios. Ms. Mendoza’s current passion for hula has led her to be the fundraising coordinator for Halau Hula O Keola Ali’i O Kekai, which is under the direction of Kumu Hula Iola Balubar for 2021 to 2023.
Looking toward the future, Ms. Mendoza still advocates for recycling furniture from estates and hotels, however, she has retired from this part of her career. Furthermore, she has been incredibly active in her local community. She feels as though she was put on Earth by God to help others, and she has always strived to do so. Ms. Mendoza also donated her time and expertise to the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Maui and has spent a considerable amount of time in the last few years with activities related to the Filipino community through the Binhi At Ani Filipino Community Center.
Ms. Mendoza attributes much of her success to her parents, who were the inspiration behind her drive to help her community. Her parents had always gone out of their way to help others who were struggling, and her father was well-known in their community for his generosity and his acknowledgment of others who had done well. Growing up with the example set by her parents was key to her current community-oriented nature. When she is not working, Ms. Mendoza enjoys spending time with her son, Colin Devon Mendoza; surfing and hiking; and is a member of the Lahaina Yacht Club. Ms. Mendoza is the daughter of Nonoy Mendoza (deceased 2010) and Aida Mendoza, and has two sisters, Roxanne Mendoza (deceased 1997) and Rhonda Mendoza.