When Jacqueline Martinez talks about graduating this week from USC, she is quick to thank her parents for their role in helping her achieve her college dreams.
“Graduation day is basically the time I’ve been waiting for — to be able to deliver that bachelor’s degree and master’s degree — because it belongs to my parents,” she said. “Their sacrifices are a big part of why I’m here.”
“It will be the time for all those long nights and hard times.”
On Friday, Martinez will receive a Bachelor of Arts in Nongovernmental Organizations and Social Change from USC Dornsife College of Letters, Art and Sciences and a Masters in Communication Management with a specialization in Marketing from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. .
Martinez’s ability to accomplish so much in four years is a perfect example of how parental engagement can be critical to good outcomes in higher education, said Angela Laila Hasan, clinical training professor at the USC Rossier School of Education.
The young are still growing; they still need guidance.
Angela Laila Hasan |USC Rossier School of Education
“Young people are still growing; they still need guidance,” said Hasan, an expert on school policy and parent involvement. “They still have family to lean on emotionally. This is very important for balancing academics.
Martinez not only managed to complete both degrees in four years, but also played trumpet in the Trojan Marching Band for three of those years. She inherited her work ethic from her parents, who for decades worked cleaning movie theaters in addition to juggling other jobs.
Benjamin Martinez and Argelia Rosas raised their three daughters and one son in Willowbrook, a small unincorporated community in Los Angeles County between Compton and Watts. Jacqueline, their second daughter, was an outstanding student at Ánimo Watts College Preparatory Academy and while still in college, she set her sights on USC.
“She was always exceptional in school,” Rosas said. “I always knew she would go far.”
Martinez said his family emphasizes academics as a path to success.
“It’s important that someone breaks that glass ceiling,” she said. “My little sister and future generations can see it as a more paved path and not something on the road.”
What’s next for this new USC grad
After graduation, Martinez is looking for a job that allows her to work at the intersection of social impact and entertainment.
“I’m open to anything that comes up,” she said. “I really want to make sure I give back and give back to people who come from difficult situations like me.”
I really want to make sure I give back and give back to people who come from difficult situations like me.
Jacqueline Martinezfresh grad from USC
In his freshman year, Martinez earned a four-year Mork Family Scholarship, which covers all tuition and helps with housing and living expenses. Each year, only about 10 high-performing freshmen are selected from thousands of applicants for merit-based support.
Now Martinez wants to give back. “I want to make sure my parents aren’t working multiple jobs forever and that I’m able to support them in the long term in some way,” she said.
Family life and life in Troy
Since her freshman year, Martinez has made sure to involve her parents in the life of USC. Because Martinez was in the marching band and got free tickets to USC football games, his parents and siblings were able to attend regularly. She also took her parents to USC Kaufman School of Dance performances and other activities.
“I was always very excited to go to the games and it always filled me with pride to see her play in the group,” Rosas said. “It always made me happy that she was able to travel to different places [with the band]thanks to the university.
Martinez said taking his parents to campus events was “by far the most rewarding part of my USC experience.”
USC Graduate: Overcoming Pandemic Problems
Those campus visits came to a halt when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and Martinez had to leave her residential college suite at USC Village and return home. She struggled with spotty Wi-Fi as she continued her online lessons, and her parents lost their jobs because movie theaters closed. They tried to make ends meet by doing Postmates deliveries, but still struggled with food insecurity.
“It was, overall, unstable and difficult,” Martinez said. “At that time, just trying to look for the good that is happening in the world, despite the negative headlines, helped. I lean on my parents and family more than anyone – even now as I prepare for post-college life.
I feel very happy and proud of her. It’s something she’s wanted since she was in high school and worked really hard for.
Algeria RosesJacqueline Martinez’s mother
Rosas joined her daughter on campus last week for a photo. She was focused, as she often was, on her daughter.
“I feel very happy and proud of her,” Rosas said. “It’s something she’s wanted since she was in high school and worked really hard for.”
“I know,” she said, “I’m going to be very emotional.”
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