Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Student success: Evelyn Martinez dedicates herself to a life of service

Evelyn Valenzuela Martinez
When Evelyn Valenzuela Martinez was a 6-year-old girl growing up in Mexico, a freak accident led to a pot full of boiling water spilling onto her exposed legs. The painful path to recovery would include four skin graft surgeries and months of rehabilitation at a Shriner’s Hospital in Sacramento.

Now Martinez is at Grossmont College on her journey to become a nurse, she said, “so that I can do for others what the nurses at Shriner’s Hospital did for me.”

Her dedication to others – dedication that includes endless hours of volunteer work at local hospitals and charity fundraisers – resulted in a $1,000 scholarship from the Institute for Mexicans Abroad.

“It’s incredible,” Martinez said of the scholarship awarded through the Mexican Foreign Ministry to promising low-income, Mexican and Mexican-Americans students living in the United States who demonstrate leadership or service benefitting the Mexican immigrant population. “It’s all going into my savings for books and supplies.”

Martinez first came to the area after being discharged from the Sacramento Shriner’s Hospital following her initial treatment. Outpatient treatment would be required, though, and the family did not want to travel to and from Mexico. So they moved in with an aunt in Santee for access to more convenient airline flights.

Martinez shined in school, making the honor roll and taking advanced classes throughout her years at Santana High School. But when it came time to go to college, a four-year program was out.  An undocumented immigrant, Martinez was ineligible for financial aid.

“It was pretty obvious we couldn’t afford it,” Martinez said. “But not going to school was not an option. Grossmont was nearby, it is affordable, it’s a great school and its transfer rates are pretty high.”

She enrolled in the fall of 2011. She completed her coursework for an associate degree in university studies last fall.

Martinez has since applied to the Grossmont College Nursing Program and hopes to ultimately earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing from San Diego State University.

“I want to work as a nurse practitioner at a Shriner’s hospital,” she said. “And Grossmont College has helped me reach my educational goals.”