Delia Martinez

Delia Martinez

CSU Bakersfield

"My life journey has not been picture perfect. There have been many obstacles that have been a deterrent towards my higher education journey. At the age of nine, I realized that my mother was battling cancer. A year later, she lost her battle and I lost the only parent I had ever known.

The unrelenting pain I felt over the loss of my mother affected every aspect of my childhood and carried over to my adolescent years. I became a teenage mom at the age of 15. Due to the lack of support I found myself having to drop out of high school my sophomore year and worked part-time to support my baby. The reality of being a teenage mom and a high school drop-out influenced thoughts of inferiority and insecurities within me. This is when I began to believe that higher education was not for me.

I became the stereotypical teenage mom. I let my circumstances determine my future and I would often tell myself, Delia, you are not college material. As I learned how to be a mother to my son and find solace within a church family, tragedy struck again. I received the most tragic call any parent could ever imagine. Sadly, my son had suffered a drowning accident at his daycare provider's home. He passed away two weeks later at the age of 3 ½.  Again, I was left heartbroken, hopeless, and grief was there to greet me once again. The years to follow were the hardest I had ever endured. I would often ask myself, Where is my silver lining that everyone assured me of?

As the years passed, I began to realize that I was resilient and an overcomer. I knew that my grit was enough to see me through any obstacle that life would throw my way. I became acquainted with friends and family members that were on their path towards higher education. I would often ask myself, I wonder if I have what it takes to pursue and achieve a college education? I put aside my doubts, regrets and shame and willed myself the pursuit of happiness and a promising future.

With the support of my friends and family, I decided to enroll as a full-time student at my community college. This was the beginning of my challenging yet triumphant education journey. For example, I did not know what MLA format meant, what a scantron was, or how to write a research paper! I had to take remedial math courses and often felt overwhelmed with the demands of school, family and work.

Through it all, I knew that no matter what, I was not going to give up! I exhausted all my resources and went to every tutoring session that was available to me. It took me two-and-a-half years to transfer to CSU Bakersfield. From day one, I felt supported by my advisor. She always had an open door policy and went the extra mile to make sure I was on the right path toward graduation. I graduated with honors from CSU Bakersfield in the spring of 2016 with my bachelor's degree in liberal studies. I finally felt like all my hard work was paying off. My dream and aspirations of becoming a teacher were finally going to come true!

I was the first cohort to begin the Kern Urban Teacher Residency program in the fall of 2016. The residency program offers students the opportunity to earn a multiple-subject teaching credential and a single-subject credential in either mathematics or science. The residency program has assisted me with a $3,000 grant every semester to help offset the cost of courses and books. I was also promised a three-year contract with the Bakersfield school district upon my completion of the credential program!

The exposure and ongoing support have been remarkable. They have enabled me to achieve my goals and grow as a future educator. The support received from CSU Bakersfield and the Bakersfield school district have made this experience unforgettable. They have had my best interests in mind every step of the way and for that I will always be grateful. I can attest that without the support and devotion of the residency program, such as educational coordinators, co-teachers, and instructors, I would not feel as prepared and ready to take on the demands of a first-year teacher. The dedication the educational coordinators have shown enables other students and me to strive and believe that we can do this!

I will never take all the credit for my accomplishments. There have been many that have been pillars in my life and have assisted me in my process of becoming a teacher. The young girl that thought it was unimaginable and unattainable attained the most powerful gift of all: higher education. No one and nothing can take that away from me!

My silver lining is this: I am married and have three beautiful sons. I am a college graduate and on my path to becoming a teacher! I am no longer hopeless, lonely or filled with grief. I am loved and supported by many. I am thankful to all who believed in me and for their ongoing support. I commit to 'paying it forward' to the next generation of dreamers!"

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