Roosevelt University is proud to invite Katia and Samantha Martinez to give a joint student speech at the Fall 2018 Commencement ceremony on Dec. 14.
The twin sisters, who immigrated from Mexico when they were five years old, will both graduate with the Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and were involved with myriad school activities during their time as Roosevelt students. They were able to answer some questions about this honor and how Roosevelt University opened doors for them to grow and flourish as both students and people.
How do you feel about receiving this honor and what does it mean to you?
Katia Martinez: For me, being chosen as the Commencement speaker not only recognizes my work but validates my struggles as a Latina immigrant and first-generation student. For the majority of my high school education, I did not feel supported or capable of completing a college degree, but this recognition reminds me that I am capable, and that although it takes time and work, achieving a college degree is possible.
Samantha Martinez: Being chosen as a Commencement speaker means so much to me, especially as an immigrant and first-generation student, since my journey has not been easy. Yet I genuinely believe knowledge is power, so I have put in so much love, work and time into everything I have done.
How has Roosevelt University brought out your personal strengths, talents and skills during your time here, and how do you think that will help you as you take the next step?
KM: Roosevelt University has introduced me to dedicated and supportive faculty members and students that have challenged me and helped me find my voice. My sociology classes provided me with a safe space to share my thoughts, encouraged me to use my voice, and challenged me to think critically. Through my work at the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation, I’ve had the opportunity to have leadership roles, do research and participate in conferences. All of this has helped strengthen my skills, gain experience, and become a more empowered and conscious individual and I feel so capable of achieving my goals.
SM: Being exposed to the diverse Roosevelt community, the dedicated faculty, and the work of the University to uphold its social justice mission really impacted me. I felt encouraged by my professors, included in the student body, and learned I could be an agent for positive change. My experience at Roosevelt University has also impacted my love for learning, which is why I want to continue my graduate education next year, and work toward becoming a professor so I can assist other students in their educational journeys.
What inspired you to do your best work here?
KM: Throughout my education at Roosevelt University, dedicated professors like Professor Heather Dalmage inspired me to always try my best at everything I do and remind me to never let anyone make me feel like my voice does not matter — because it does! And, learning of the work that educators, community organizers and scholar activists are doing inspire the way I envision the future of society and my role in social justice.
SM: Both my parents and sociology professor, Dr. Dalmage. Since the beginning of my college education, my parents have encouraged me to pursue my passions and dreams, while genuinely believing in me and it just feels so amazing to be supported. During my sophomore year at Roosevelt University, I took a class with Dr. Dalmage and I was so inspired by her pedagogical approach in the classroom, as well as her commitment to social justice and positive change.
What are your plans after you graduate?
KM: After I graduate, I will be taking a year off. I will also start applying for jobs that are hopefully centered on community outreach in order to gain more experience and continue saving money for graduate school. In the fall of 2019, I will be applying for a master’s in social work, since my goal is to be a clinical social worker in order to assist children and families in need.
SM: I will be taking some time to reflect on my journey so far. I will be studying to take the GRE exam in spring 2019, and in the fall of 2019, I will be applying to fully-funded sociology PhD programs across the United States. I will also be doing community work through the Gage Park Latinx Council, which is a grassroots organization that I and four other community residents (including my sister Katia) helped found this year.