Violeta Martin’s devotion to our community epitomizes the PAC’s new role
One of the Wenatchee Valley’s up and coming civic leaders is Violeta Martin, who is the recruiter and retention specialist for the College Assistance Migrant Project (CAMP) at Wenatchee Valley College. This young woman is going places.
Martin, who graduated from Eastmont High School and who went on to get a degree in comparative literature at Willamette University, also serves on the Latino Council for the Numerica Performing Arts Center and assists in helping broaden the appeal of that theater.
She’s the daughter of migrant farm workers and was the first person in her family to go to college. She really broke the mold by attending a private, out-of-state university. She knows the challenges that students and their families face when it comes to attending college. Martin provides the support for about 60 students each year who come from migrant families as they make the transition to college.
Once the student enters the one-year program, Martin helps them make the transition. The first six weeks of class, she said, can be really challenging. But she’s been there and can help provide needed support.
Martin is an outgoing, vivacious, confident and enthusiastic individual who cares deeply about the community and is finding great satisfaction in helping students achieve goals that many doubted were possible.
“I’m a big advocate for self advocacy — teaching students how to advocate for themselves and help others, too,” she said.
Martin’s mother demonstrated early in her life that caring for others was a priority. She recalled that her mom saw a pregnant woman walking barefoot in a parking lot and struck up a conversation. Her mother gave the woman a pair of shoes on the spot.
“We didn’t have a lot of money,” Martin recalled. “I was just baffled by the fact that my mom was just giving this woman some shoes. That’s always been a reminder for me and a great example,” she added.
Martin, who has been accepted to New York University to pursue a masters in Latin American and Carribean studies this fall, said PAC Executive Director and former Eastmont teacher Matt Cadman was a significant inspiration during her high school years.
She lights up when she talks about the kind of personal growth that her CAMP students experience in the year they are in the program at WVC. They often go from concerned and even pessimistic that they will succeed to confident, enthusiastic students who mentor other students from migrant families. They’re giving back to other students at the college and they reach out to students from their high schools, too. The spirit of contribution and selfless service is strong in the CAMP program.
In the past three years, many leader of student government have been CAMP students, she said. That’s a particular point of pride with Martin.
At the graduation ceremonies last year, Martin watched as the first class that she recruited and mentored through the one-year program graduated. “I was a big puddle of tears,” Martin said.
When she’s not helping out students or working with the Latino Council at the PAC, she can be found volunteering with the Wenatchee Literacy Council. She told me that she often finds CAMP students volunteering to teach English for the nonprofit.
I asked her what it’s going to take to more fully tap into the strengths of all members of our community, regardless of ethnicity.
She identified two primary factors. First, it’s important to take risks, she said, and not just rely on what has worked in the past. She also said listening deeply is important and finding ways to get more input from a variety of people.
When Martin graduated from Willamette University, she had some trepidation about coming home, but she’s glad she did. “I took it upon myself to find community and to continue to build community,” Martin told me. “I’m really happy every June when more graduates return to the valley,” she added.