Amber Martinez has always drawn inspiration from her mother, who migrated to the United States as a teenager. Martinez suffered from a learning disability, but her mother refused to let that stop her daughter from achieving great things.
“I felt like I wasn’t as smart as the other students, and I would go home and cry,” Martinez says. “It was hard to learn, and I wasn’t getting the grades I wanted. My mom helped me talk with my teachers, and she encouraged me not to give up. Throughout my high school years, she was there supporting me and telling me to keep going.”
Martinez graduated from Trinity High School in Euless and attended Tarrant County College before transferring to Baylor last fall.
“Academically, the transition was intense,” she says. “It was a lot of pressure—meeting new people, starting all over again, and more homework.”
Making friends and embracing a new environment somewhat comes naturally for Martinez, who was named Miss Fort Worth Latina in 2015. However, being away from her mother has been difficult.
“My mom didn’t want me to go, but she knew it was the right thing to do, that God has a plan for me,” she says.
Martinez found First in Line to be extremely helpful in her first year at Baylor, mainly because of the other transfer students in the program.
“We got to know each other before school started,” she says. “We’re not alone; we’re all in the same boat here. That helped me throughout my first semester. And, I was surprised there were so many other first-generation students here.”
After college, Martinez hopes to work with low-income students who also have learning disabilities.
“I will be able to tell my story and help others,” she says. “I want to motivate them and empower them to continue their education and to never give up because it’s hard. Going to college with a learning disability is hard, but anyone can do it if you really put your mind and heart into it.”
That is precisely what Martinez has done in her time at Baylor. She is accustomed to working while in school, and she was worried that Baylor would be too challenging for her to maintain a job. However, she found having to study more made her more productive.
“In community college, I didn’t have to study much; I could listen and be OK,” she says. “But here, I have to actually study, read, write notes and rewrite them. For me, studying makes it not difficult.”