College Graduates 2020: Jeffrey Martínez

TAMUSA graduate student aims to inspire youth on city’s South Side

SAN ANTONIO – The dedication and instruction from educators at Harlandale ISD inspired one student to follow in their foot steps.

Jeffrey Martínez said his dream began at a very young age and was accomplished in the fall of 2013, however, Martínez said something was still missing.

Martínez admits he thrives in a classroom setting.

“I always wanted everyone to be included and on task,” Martínez said. “As I grew up, every level that I attended, I wanted to be a teacher at that level.”

He graduated from Harlandale High School in the summer of 2010 and continued his post-secondary education at Our Lady of the Lake University. He graduated from the West Side institution with honors and a bachelor’s degree in math in the fall of 2013. Within days, Martínez was back at his old stomping ground on the South Side.

“Literally, I graduated college on a Saturday, and I started teaching (at Harlandale High School) that Tuesday right after,” Martínez said.

Martínez is a high school math teacher. Martínez said he’s done his best everyday to encourage his students and help them succeed.

“I sponsored the class of 2016 at Harlandale,” Martínez said. “The first accepted freshman (at Texas A&M University San Antonio) was one of my students.”

Martínez graduated from Harlandale High School in 2010 and returned as a math teacher in 2013. He plans to continue teaching student in San Antonio’s south side. (Copyright 2020 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

In 2017, Martínez realized he missed being a student and enrolled at TAMUSA for their masters of arts program in counseling and guidance.

“I was the only mathematics major from undergrad that was entering a Masters program with counseling,” Martínez said. “The professors made me feel like I was at home and wasn’t an outsider.”

During the next three years, the south-side native had to make a lot of sacrifices in order to continue teaching while at the same time continuing as a graduate student at TAMUSA.

“At one point, I was working three jobs and coming to school full-time,” Martínez said. “I want to be a school counselor in a secondary setting working with students. I’m (going to) continue being in the classroom until that happens.”

His motivation through it all, are two strong women in his life.

“There’s been nothing that I can ask my mom that to provide that she hasn’t provided,” Martínez said. “Only one other person has received their Masters, and she was also a math teacher and a high school counselor. (My mom’s sister) is very much a role model in my eyes.”

Martínez admits the last three years have been a tremendous sacrifice and couldn't have done it without the support of his mother, Brenda Mires, pictured above. (Copyright 2020 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)
Martínez looks up to his aunt pictured above, Lori Leija, as she’s the only other person in his family with a Masters. Lejia also teaches math and is a counselor for Harlandale ISD. (Copyright 2020 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

He’s also inspired by his South Side community that Martínez channels through a simple phrase that began in high school amongst a couple of friends, southsiders with degrees.

“There are so many words to express how resilient we are, how creative we are. I think that is the biggest threat we are southsiders with degrees,” Martinez said.” We know exactly where we (come) from, who we are and what we’re gonna do with with our degrees.”

Although TAMUSA’s commencement and hooding ceremonies have been pushed back to later this year due to COVID-19, Martínez anxiously waits for the big day.

Martínez is set to walk the stage with a lot of his students from the Harlandale Class of 2016 that will receive their bachelors.

The TAMUSA great graduate expects to receive his diploma by mail to once again doing the growing number of southsiders with degree and hopes to inspire more young students from south San Antonio to begin their post-secondary education.

About the Authors

Alicia Barrera is a KSAT 12 News reporter and anchor. She is also a co-host of the streaming show KSAT News Now. Alicia is a first-generation Mexican-American, fluent in both Spanish and English with a bachelor's degree from Our Lady of the Lake University. She enjoys reading books, traveling solo across Mexico and spending time with family.

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