Jaime Mercado was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, his mother’s birthplace. His father was born in Flagstaff, Arizona. In 1955, his family moved to San Ysidro where he attended Sunset Elementary, Southwest Junior and Mar Vista High. Upon completing the tenth grade he had to drop out of Mar Vista High School to get a job. However, after working in several positions, including washing cars and picking tomatoes, he realized the value of an education.
Soon he returned to Mar Vista Adult School for evening classes. Inspired and motivated by a teacher, Mr. Burke Mills, who took an interest in him, Jaime completed the 11th and 12th grades in six months and earned a high school diploma. More importantly, he found a new direction and mission in life, to join Mr. Mills in helping improve the lives of children.
While attending college, Jaime became an activist joining the movement to improve the environment and opportunities for the youth of San Ysidro. Under the MAAC Project and later the Economic Opportunity Commission he worked as the director of the San Ysidro Teen Post. Their purpose was to advocate, identify and develop educational and economic opportunities for the youth. Toward that end, he joined the boards of the Chicano Federation, the MAAC Project, The American G.I. Forum, the San Ysidro Clinic, and numerous other organizations.
He earned an A.A. from Southwestern College, a B.A., an M.A., a teaching credential from SDSU, and was the recipient of a Carnegie Fellowship to get his school administration credential from San Diego State University. In 1986, he returned to Mar Vista High School where he worked with Mr. Mills as their principal.
During the thirty-two years that he worked in the Sweetwater District, Jaime served as a teacher aide, a teacher, an assistant principal, and principal in various schools including Southwest Junior, Southwest High, Montgomery Junior, Mar Vista High, Palomar High, National City Junior, and National City Adult School. He was elected to the Sweetwater School District Board of Trustees in 2004 and served for four years.