QUESTION: Where did you grow up, and what is your field of study at San Jacinto College?
GUSTAVO MARTINEZ: I grew up in the Denver Harbor neighborhood, but we moved to Channelview, which is where I attended high school. I am studying math and engineering and I chose San Jac because I always heard it’s a great college, but I also felt like I could get a better education because of the smaller class sizes and because professors are able to provide more individual attention to students.
Q: What are your educational goals at San Jacinto College and after?
GM: I will earn an associate degree in math at San Jac and then I plan to transfer to either the University of Houston or the University of Texas to earn a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in math or engineering.
Q: What is your ultimate career goal?
GM: My dream job would be to work for NASA as an engineer, perhaps in aerospace engineering. In order to get there, I know I will need to be very good at math, which is why I am taking a lot of math courses.
Q: You work for the College as a math tutor. How did that come about?
GM: It’s sort of a crazy story. I was just an average student in high school. When I was kicked out of school in the ninth grade and placed at an alternative campus, that got my attention. I realized I needed to get serious about life and education. My first semester at San Jac, I made a “D” in math. Fortunately, I had a math professor, Nate Wiggins, who really cared and who really tried to help me. He encouraged me to take a summer math course and to get assistance in math at the tutoring lab. I spent countless hours in the tutoring lab, and took the summer math course. As a result, in one semester, I brought up the “D” math grade to an “A.” I did so well, and liked it so much that I put in an application and was hired as a math tutor at the lab.
Q: Sounds like you are on the right track now. What sort of advice would you offer to young people about the value and importance of education?
GM: My message would be that education is very important because with a good education you know you can have a good career and have a good future. If you are very lucky and very talented, you might be able to make it without a good education in something like sports. Or, you might get lucky and find a pretty good job with a pretty good paycheck. When I started college, I realized that I was really on my own and it was up to me to make something of myself. I want my life to count. I want my life to have value. That’s why I am putting my heart and mind into my education. I want to have a better future.