Jesse Stoddard

Life After High School: Interview with Alejandra Meza-Tabares

Today’s interview with Alejandra Meza-Tabares is part of my ongoing blog-to-book project: Life After High School: Secrets To A Successful Life By Those Who Have Had Twenty Years To Think About It (or) What They Didn’t Teach Us Gen Xers In High School. If you missed the last post, click here, otherwise, you can start at the beginning here.

Alejandra Meza-Tabares

(Formerly Alejandra (Ali) Cortez-Meza)

Florence, AL

My Life In High School

Alejandra (Ali) Cortez-Meza AHS 1996

Who were you in High School and how did you feel about it?

I am not sure who I was. I was not one to party. I was not sporty. Maybe I was nerdy? I am not really sure where I fit in.

Alejandra and Karen AHS

What did you think your life would become when you graduated?

I had no idea. I was just going through the motions without any real plans. I did want desperately to be an artist, but it turns out I don’t have a single artistic bone in my body! Go figure.

My Life After High School

Alejandra Meza-Tabares and kids

What happened in your life to you, for you, and by you in the last twenty years (how have you used your time and who have you become)?

As previously mentioned, I wanted to be an artist. I went to school in Long Beach for Graphic Design. I went one year, got into huge debt and got nothing for it!

I went back to Washington and did some time at Skagit Valley College. I was just about to graduate. I was taking my finals and had just landed a very good paying job and purchased my first new car. It seemed too good to be true!

Well it did not last long. I started feeling really ill. This went on for several days. Then I could not stand the pain anymore, so I drove myself to the clinic.

As soon as the doctor touched my abdomen she looked up in horror and called an ambulance. My appendix had been ruptured and poisoning me for several days. I went in for emergency surgery. I was in ICU for a day and then stayed in a regular room for a week.

By day four, I was very sick. I could not hold down food or medicine and had the shakes. My mom’s friend came to see me (my mom lived in Alabama and could not come see me due to transportation issues). She reported to my mom that she did not think I was going to make it.

Fortunately, on day five I had a miraculous recovery! According to my mom, it was due to her prayers. I am not very religious, but it seems miraculous.

I still had a long recovery. I spent a month in bed at home with a home nurse. By this time I had been out of work for over a month and broke. I finished my finals, graduated, and headed to Alabama for a year (or so I thought!)

By this point, I had a better idea of what I wanted. I started attending UNA. My planned major was physics, but as many of us have come to find out plans can unravel quickly.

It turns out that I have a natural ability for economics! I got straight A’s which landed me a full ride scholarship—If I were to switch majors. So of course, I switched… And got a job at a local Mexican restaurant.

This is where I met my husband. Since we were dating it was hard to work together. I quit and started working for TNT fireworks and have been there ever since (going on 16 years). I have held many positions within the company. I am now a Business Analyst.

Now for the best part of my life: I got married in 2003, graduated UNA in 2004, and I am a mother to five babies. Only three are with me on earth. The other two have wings.

I am now a soccer mom and love it!

My Life Lessons

What were the major life lessons and wisdom that you gained during your journey over the last 20 years?

Plans change! Life is unpredictable.

Letter To My High School Self

If you could write your 18-year-old self (or however old you were when you graduated) a letter, and send it back in time, what would you say? What lessons or wisdom did you learn? What encouragement or warnings would you give yourself?

Be you—don’t try to be what you think others want you to be.

In the next couple of posts, I will continue with one or two more interviews, like this one with Kimberly Griffin before I conclude.

Are you from Generation X? I want to hear what you think! Please comment below and participate in the conversation about What They Didn’t Teach Us Gen Xers In High School. What do you wish someone told you when you were eighteen?

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Jesse Stoddard


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