Annual Hispanic Scholarships are again a success

By Ryn Gargulinski: QCS

Conchas Dam mother and son Rita and Mark Martinez said they have a few things in common – like being in the same college class during Mark Martinez’ first semester and being recipients of this year’s Hispanic Scholarships from Mesalands Community College.

“It was really an honor,” Rita Martinez said of receiving the scholarship and getting up on stage at Friday’s third annual scholarship dinner dance. “I had a lot to say,” she laughed, “mainly to thank the community and the college. I have a great support group – especially my family. It was wonderful and just so exciting.”

Mark Martinez, too, said he enjoyed the enchilada dinner dance at the VFW Post 2528. In part, he said, because he got to dress up like he intends to do for his planned career in accounting.

“It was very honorable to accept something like (the scholarship),” he said, “and to thank everybody for their support.”

This year’s awards, which also included a third recipient, Tucumcari’s Consuelo Chavez, brings the total number of Hispanic scholarship recipients to seven, according to a release from the college. This year’s fund-raiser amassed $7,100, which is matched by federal funds to equal $14,200, and brings the total scholarship fund to $33,200, the college said.

Although the Martinez mother and son share some commonalities, some things – like their majors – are vastly different.
Mark Martinez is fresh out of Tucumcari High School and plans on a career in business.

“The day I graduated I felt relief,” he said. “I was finally moving on. Ever since I was little it’s been one of my goals to go to college.”

Mom Rita Martinez was also right out of Tucumcari High School – in 1979. She said she began a family and her career in teaching in Conchas Dam but they closed the school she was at and she lost her job. She said she nabbed a gig substitute teaching in Tucumcari but found she still had time on her hands.

“Both kids were in Tucumcari going to school,” Rita Martinez said, so she figured she’d join them. Even though she’s been out of school for 23 years, she was never far from it with her teaching job. Her major at Mesalands is education and she said she hopes to find fulltime employment at the middle school level when she graduates.

“When one boy sent me a note saying I was his favorite teacher, that’s when I knew I wanted to teach,” Rita Martinez said. “That’s pretty cool,” she added, “especially since I was a substitute.”

When they do share classes, which happened at least once so far, mother and son said they found it less ominous than fun. And yes, they even took time to study together. Although the traditional role of the parent is to guide the child, Rita Martinez said there was a slight switch when they did their study sessions. “He’s fresh out of school,” Rita Martinez said with a laugh, “he was teaching ME.”