SAN ANTONIO – A child of an immigrant who has overcome many barriers, Mitchel Martinez left Cuba at 13-years-old only knowing one English word.
Years later he’s ready to graduate and cross the stage to receive his diploma from East Central High School as an exemplarily student.
Martinez said he still remembers the day he had to part from his life in Cuba back in 2016.
" I remember my friends, because we were always sitting outside on the corner of the street, always talking and having fun, running on the street. It’s so different from here," he said.
One flight and several hours later, he landed in San Antonio and began classes at Legacy Middle School.
“I think I only knew (the word) 'water’ to be honest,” he said.
Over time, however, he learned so much more.
“I never thought I would be able to. I mean, I have an accent and everything, but, you know, I’m able to communicate and understand other people,” he said.
His life though took a halt one day after he fell from a horse and shattered his kidney during his freshman year of high school.
After recovering, he used his determination and work ethic to make himself a standout student at East Central High School.
“He is the model of what we want for every student at Central,” Shane McKay, principal of East Central High School said. “He’s taken advantage of every opportunity that’s been given to him, and most importantly, he’s earned everything that he’s ever achieved."
As an Alamo scholar, Mitchel is part of the diesel mechanic program that helps him hone his skills for in-demand and high wage opportunities.
“For the last two years, he meets here at six o’clock in the morning, gets on a bus, and they drive him to the campus where he does his training with people that are from the industry. He’s received several credentials and certifications to be a diesel mechanic,” McKay said.
Martinez got that passion and work ethic from his father.
“He works a lot. He helps me, every day a lot. He did it. He did the oil change for my trucks. He, changed the brakes,” Mitchel’s father said.
He said he feels blessed to see his son succeed after years of sacrifice.
“I have to thank the high school and the Alamo academies and my step mom, my dad, everyone that supported me,” Mitchel said.
Through the Alamo scholar program, his tuition at Palo Alto College is free. He intends to transfer to UTSA to major in engineering and one day open his own mechanic shop.