GREENSBORO, N.C. — A Guilford County school will become the first in the state to be named after a Latino person, specifically in honor of civil rights activist Sylvia Mendez. 

Newcomers School High Point will be named Sylvia Mendez Newcomers School

"The board received overwhelming support for the name, which honors civil rights activist Sylvia Mendez," Guilford County Schools officials said. 

The Guilford County School Board approved the name Tuesday. The vote followed a 30-day public comment period and a 30-minute public hearing.

Mendez was born in Santa Ana, California and moved to nearby Westminster with her family. When her parents tried to register Mendez and her siblings at a nearby public school, they were denied enrollment and told they needed to enroll at a school "specifically for Mexican-Americans," school leaders say. 

"The Mendez family fought so that Mrs. Mendez and other students of Mexican descent could have an equal education," those on behalf of the school wrote. 

Mendez later embarked on a successful career in health care. She earned her degree in nursing from Orange Coast Community College, and later went on to California State University at Los Angeles to earn her bachelor of science in nursing.

She has also received numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States, in 2011. 

“Her story is a story that Newcomer families can relate to,” Grace K. Migui wrote in a letter of support to the board. “Our students can relate to the challenges of attending school and feeling different because of where they or their parents originated. As someone who migrated to the United States as a young adult, and as the slated School Social Worker for the High Point Newcomers School, I understand the importance of having a sense of belonging. I believe that Sylvia Mendez will be a very fitting name for our school.”

The newly-named school is planned as a counterpart to the Doris Henderson Newcomer’s School in Greensboro.