Jose L. Martinez Garcia

Jose L. Martinez Garcia

MSTI | STEM Scholar

Name: Jose Luis Martinez Garcia
Graduation Term: Spring 2020
Major: Biology, Concentrations in Ecology and Environmental Biology
CSI3 Undergraduate Programs: MSTI and STEM Scholars
Hobbies: Cycling, eating, running, hiking, and watching anime

What is your current status? I am currently a graduate student at UCLA while simultaneously a high school biology/physiology teacher at Jordan High School in Watts.

What do you enjoy the most about your current status?
Where do I even start? I LOVE teaching. Every single morning that I wake up I look forward to going in and learning more about my kids. Teaching is without a doubt the most rewarding career I could even begin thinking about, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility. I have had many students share things which are very close to their hearts and it is moments like these in which I am reminded of why I decided to become a teacher. Being a pillar of support and someone who my students can turn to whether they are hungry and want a snack, need guidance, or are in distress is my motivation to continue growing not only as an educator but also as a person. Oh and I also enjoy being a graduating student at UCLA and talking to like-minded educators who share a passion for equity and fighting for social issues. That being said, I will forever be a Toro at heart.

If you could give your junior/senior year self any words of advice, what would you say?
Don’t give up please! The journey was never meant to be easy for you and the obstacles you will overcome will lead you to being the person you are today. Never lose sight of your dreams to help those in your community and to be a voice for those who cannot speak out. Also make sure to take a couple more physiology/anatomy classes to better prepare yourself for your career haha.

What has been one of the biggest lessons you have learned upon graduating?
Life will continue to move on whether you are ready or not. No amount of education/schooling will prepare you for some of the challenges you face in the real world but it is important to stay true to yourself and continue moving forward. There are moments when you will question whether you made the right decision but it is important to not regret what is done and walk with your head held high.

What has been one of the biggest lessons you have learned upon graduating?
Life will continue to move on whether you are ready or not. No amount of education/schooling will prepare you for some of the challenges you face in the real world but it is important to stay true to yourself and continue moving forward. There are moments when you will question whether you made the right decision but it is important to not regret what is done and walk with your head held high.

What keeps you motivated and positive throughout life’s hardships?
Growing up was never easy for me. Being undocumented led to me having a bunch of roadblocks which many others have not had to face. But all that has made me who I am today. My motivation has and will always be my community. By community I mean all those individuals who are living through the same struggles which I faced growing up, to the 11 million undocumented folks living in a country in which they are not wanted. My dream is to be someone who will do everything they can for all 11 million but I know I cannot do that alone and for now will focus on helping those who I can. Everyday I go into work I remind myself that I have privileges which others could only wish they had. I do my part by helping my undocumented students dream big and to never give up. And although this is only my first year teaching, having students reach out to me for help on things like college applications, the California Dream Act, and asking for letters of recommendation; I know I am on the right path. This is my motivation and why continue moving forward.

Is There anyone from the CSI3 program you would like to thank or give a shout-out to?
I want to begin by shouting out the entire CSI3 team! Although I do not know everyone by name I know that every single one of you played a role in where I am today. From doing things behind the scenes like having small snacks and food readily available at the offices to making sure you were at the front counter for me to pick up my check on payday, thank you. That being said I want to give a special shoutout and thank you to Noemi and Alexandra. Both of you were there when I revealed my undocumented status to you (you were the first college staff I ever did that with) and accepted me with open arms and made sure I was directed in the right direction with everything. You were also some of the first people I reached out to when I got into UCLA and I did that because y’all were there for me since the beginning and I never forgot that. I will forever be grateful for everything you have done, it means more to me than you can ever imagine.

Updated 11/18/21