Martinez provides positive role model

Recent Montevallo High School graduate Horacio Martinez speaks to the ELL class at Montevallo Elementary School. (Contributed)

Recent Montevallo High School graduate Horacio Martinez speaks to the ELL class at Montevallo Elementary School. (Contributed)

By MICHELLE ADAMS/Community Columnist

Before the final bell of the school year, Montevallo High School graduate Horacio Martinez spoke to students in the English language learners class at the elementary school about how he has found success in his academic studies.

Martinez encouraged the young listeners to work hard in school, avoid distractions and preserve the Spanish language, guidelines that have helped to garner him a $20,000 Dell scholarship.

One of 300 recipients in the United States, and the only winner in the state of Alabama, Martinez qualified for the scholarship by being a part of a college preparatory program, excelling in challenging classes and submitting several essays.

“Participating in Upward Bound through the University of Montevallo was really beneficial for me,” Martinez said. “In addition to receiving tutoring and college prep assistance, I was an ambassador my sophomore year, which gave me the chance to stay on campus and learn what the college experience would be like. I was also able to participate in community service and cultural events.”

During Martinez’s high school years, he played soccer, played trumpet in the band, was on the scholar’s bowl team, served as a member of the National Honor Society and National Art Honor Society and took four AP classes.

“I had to learn to manage my time and finish my schoolwork on time,” Martinez said. “I also have had much support from my parents. Despite hardships, they have been understanding and supportive, always encouraging me to strive for my dreams and goals and seek success in all I do.”

Martinez’s hard work has definitely paid off. In addition to the funds for tuition, he received a $2,000 stipend for books and a new laptop as part of his scholarship winnings. His plans are to attend the University of South Alabama to study mechanical engineering.

As final thoughts to those young students looking to him for advice on the future, he told them not to be scared, to challenge themselves with hard classes and to seek out scholarship opportunities.

“Horacio’s story is inspiring to my class,” ELL teacher Julie Caine said. “He moved from Mexico to the U.S. in the fourth grade and is now going to college with a $20,000 scholarship. It is so important for our Latino students to have positive role models, and I hope to have more occasions like this to connect our older and younger students.”