SAN ANTONIO – In our Great Graduates segment this week, we are highlighting students in and around San Antonio who are overcoming the seemingly impossible to thrive.
Joshua Martinez, a senior at Southside High School, is set to walk the graduation stage after overcoming a variety of challenges throughout his upbringing.
“Sometimes I didn’t have a place to sleep. I didn’t have food,” Martinez said. “At a young age, my mom was incarcerated. And so, they kind of left me in the area. I was, you know, following the older kids that I saw in the hood.”
The grad-to-be said he has had various ups and downs but his persistence is what saved him.
“It took to sleeping on the streets. Sleeping on anywhere I can find, you know, anywhere I could lay my head out in peace,” Martinez said.
Atlee Gonzales, the lead counselor at Southside High School, said that when Martinez first enrolled he was behind but willing to put in the work to catch up and recover credits.
“When he enrolled, he said, ‘I know I’m behind, but if you tell me what I need to do to catch up and get me in the right classes and credit recovery, I’m willing to work for it,’” Gonzales said.
Martinez said he made it through all of that and is stronger because of what he had to do.
“It’s taught me independence, it’s taught me integrity, it’s taught me just to in general make the right decision,” Martinez said.
Gonzales called Martinez’s story an “inspiration” and hopes that it motivates others around him.
“He’s definitely an inspiration for me. I mean, he is the reason I do what I do,” Gonzales said. “These kids and them fulfilling their dream after everything. I mean, we think we have struggles. And then sometimes I hear these stories and I don’t know how academics are a priority.”
Martinez said he hopes he can be an example for anybody willing to hear his story.
“Just because you’re doing it by yourself, that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve it,” Martinez said. “You just have to see which path you have to take and make the right decisions.”
He says the work is far from over though.
“After school, I do want to attend Palo Alto College,” Martinez said. “So, it’s a major in mathematics.”
Martinez said he wants to be an influence in the math world or work with children—he said the experience he went through will allow him to help children who come from a similar background as he did.