By Mariah Gonzalez
As a Hispanic-Serving Institution, we’re spotlighting A&M-San Antonio students who have worked hard, overcome challenges, and are now successfully chasing their dreams. This is the third of five student spotlights.
Despite setbacks and self-doubt, Selena Martinez has used her time at A&M-San Antonio to gain confidence, acquire new skills and position herself for a successful future.
A first-generation student, Martinez was born in Juarez, Mexico, and moved to San Antonio as a child. From an early age, Martinez said she was determined to go to college, despite hitting road bumps along the way.
She recalls getting reprimanded in high school for speaking Spanish. One of her teachers expected her to speak only English, Martinez said, even when she tried to assist other Spanish-speaking students.
“I remember getting in trouble and being told, ‘You are here (United States), don’t speak Spanish, please speak English,'” said Martinez. “I never understood; why can’t I speak it (Spanish) if I’m helping someone else?”
Undeterred, Martinez forged ahead. After high school, she enrolled at San Antonio College before transferring to A&M-San Antonio in the fall of 2021.
“When I first got here, I was very shy,” she said. “I realized that I needed to get out of my comfort zone and expand my skills.”
But she again was faced with self-doubt. Trying to earn money to help pay for her education, Martinez applied for jobs at multiple Mexican restaurants but was turned down.
“It can be hard to get rejected, but it’s just a sign of redirection,” she said. “It took me a long time to realize that.”
Looking for guidance, Martinez went to the University’s Mays Center for Experiential Learning and Community Engagement.
“When I first walked into the Mays Center, I didn’t know what a résumé or cover letter was. I was embarrassed.”
At the time, Victor Gomez was the graduate assistant for career services at the Mays Center and he helped Martinez develop career-focused skills and knowledge.
“Being able to coach her and watch her grow has been a blessing,” said Gomez, who is now assistant director of career services at the Mays Center. “Students are paying for these resources; we want them to come in to learn and grow with us.”
Now, Martinez also works at the Mays Center, managing the center’s social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
“At first, I wasn’t even going to apply for the job,” she said. “Why would they hire me if I don’t have any experience? But I actually got it. That was very eye-opening since the Mays Center is a big deal. Their mission is to help students and that’s something that I really enjoy.”
In addition to working at the Mays Center, Martinez last year represented the University at the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) Emerging Leaders’ Summit in San Diego. During the three-day conference, Martinez had the opportunity to network with students and business executives from around the country.
Martinez recalls meeting an individual from Google Analytics and was inspired to see someone from a similar Hispanic background succeeding in such an innovative field.
“The conference showed that people believed in me and were investing in me. It enhanced my communication skills and my confidence.”
Martinez has also completed several internships, including at College Promoters USA, which provides professional marketing and guidance for high school athletes. She next interned at the University’s Marketing and Communications Department, which helped convince her to pursue a degree in marketing.
As she readies to graduate in December, Martinez was recently accepted at Texas A&M International University, where she plans to earn an MBA in international business.
“When I first started here, I feared I wouldn’t be able to make it,” she said. “That was the biggest challenge for me. But I pushed myself. I was like, I need to do this, and now all the things I dreamed about are actually happening.”
Major: Marketing with a concentration in digital media
Expected graduation: December 2023