Andrea Martinez: Her Pathway Story

My name is Andrea Martinez, and this is my freshman year in college. I am a first-generation college student and have been in TAFE for quite some time—this will be my fourth year of competition. Technically, I have been involved since fifth grade.


In fifth grade, my teacher, who was also my sponsor, encouraged me to join TAFE. At the time, I had very low self-esteem because my grades were poor, but she believed in me and motivated me to pursue a career in teaching. When she asked me to join, I was nervous, but she reassured me. I chose to help my first and second-grade teacher at my previous school. It was a wonderful experience teaching third graders. They enjoyed my presence and called me their “big sister.” It was fun helping them with math, even though reading was a challenge for me.


Initially, I was excited to join the club and help others. When the competition part came in, I was nervous because I wasn’t confident in my public speaking. My high school sponsor encouraged me to sign up for two projects, which was nerve-wracking. However, she supported me through the process. On the night of the competition, I was shaking with nerves, as was my partner. Despite our stage fright, we earned perfect scores on both projects. This experience showed me that I could overcome my challenges and become more confident. I used to be very shy, but now I can talk to people easily, thanks to TAFE.


Being part of TAFE has opened many doors for me. I have been able to meet new people, participate in different competitions, and gain valuable experience. I hope to inspire my family, especially since not many of them have gone to college. When my nieces and nephews ask what grade I’m in, I proudly tell them I’m in college and explain what a university is. My goal is to inspire them to pursue higher education.


One dream my mom and I share is to open a daycare together. For my master’s, I might study business to help achieve this goal. My mom loves kids, and she always tells me that we will be business partners and directors of a daycare someday.


My stage fright was a significant challenge, but I overcame it during my first year in TAFE. Then, COVID-19 hit, which brought family health issues and added stress. Balancing TAFE with family responsibilities was tough, but my sponsor supported me. Running for vice president for area and being president for Alexander High School was a lot, but I met many people along the way and learned to manage the stress.


The opportunities I have gained through TAFE have been incredible. This summer, I finally experienced the national competition, which was a missed opportunity during my junior year due to COVID-19. Competing in Washington, DC, was a surprise and a significant achievement for me and my family. I hope to encourage others to join TAFE and participate in competitions, despite their fears. Competing and presenting can be intimidating, but it is worth it. Meeting people and experiencing national competitions is a fantastic opportunity.

My biggest hope is to promote education and inspire future teachers. I’ve heard from some teachers that the pay isn’t great, but I want to help students with low self-esteem and support them as my teachers and sponsors have supported me.

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