Alyssa Martinez is pursuing a degree in mathematics for secondary education at Eastern New Mexico University to help her accomplish her goal of becoming a high school math teacher.
"I've always known I wanted to teach because my love for learning and my enjoyment of sharing that with others has always drawn me towards the profession," shares Alyssa, who had the opportunity to work in a classroom during her senior year of high school and "absolutely loved the experience."
The sophomore initially chose to teach at the elementary level, because "the thought of teaching high school students, who were so close in age to me, was terrifying." She decided to shift to secondary education after taking introductory education classes and working with students as a tutor. "I realized two things: I really love math, and I understand it at a level that would be more beneficial for high school students than for elementary students, and working with an older age group was not bad at all, it is actually a lot of fun and just as exciting," she explains.
Alyssa hopes to serve as a positive role model and mentor for her future students: "Sometimes there are students who do not have someone who believes in them. I hope to be that person for my students, as many teachers have been for my peers and me. I want to help students be excited or at least more comfortable when learning math because I know math is often the students' least favorite subject.
"I hope that by being patient and excited about teaching math, students will be ready and excited to learn math. I want to show students they shouldn't be afraid of math. I know these things will be difficult to achieve in my career, but I believe ENMU is filling my shed with all the tools I need to be the most effective teacher possible."
She has been inspired by her mentors at Eastern. "While I would like to name every single professor I have had at ENMU because they have all been beyond incredible, I would like to recognize Dr. Kathleen Wagner [associate professor of secondary education and assistant dean of the College of Education and Technology] as the professor who has provided me with the most guidance this far in my educational career."
The Greyhound Promise scholarship recipient is involved in Voice of Educators, a student organization where students have an opportunity to discuss current issues and concerns in education, plan activities and learn about volunteer opportunities. She serves as secretary of Kappa Delta Pi, which promotes excellence in and recognition of outstanding contributions to education, and vice president of Educators Rising.
One of her goals is to start an Educators Rising chapter at the school she'll teach at in the future if they don't already have one. She explains what inspired that decision: "I recently had the opportunity to go to the Educators Rising state competition. The main goal of this organization is to work with high school students who are interested in becoming teachers. These students get the chance to work in high schools and even teach mini-lessons in high schools.
"At the state competition, students from all over New Mexico compete to go to nationals. The competition varies from lesson plans the students create and teach, to presentations they create on education-related topics. Being able to see so many high school students who want to be teachers inspired me and furthered my desire to become a teacher.
"Dr. Wagner gave me the idea of starting a high school chapter when I become a teacher. I think it would be an empowering and amazing experience to show students what an amazing profession teaching is," she says.
Alyssa, who works as a Greyhound Guide and supplemental instructor for math education classes, grew up in Gallup, New Mexico. She has six siblings (one older brother, one younger brother and four younger sisters), and is a first-generation college student. Her father is a sales manager, and her mother was a bookkeeper at Albertsons. In high school, Alyssa was involved in Key Club and student council. During her senior year, she was named one of the Rotary Seniors of the Month.
The Greyhound chose to attend ENMU because of a recruiter visiting her high school and telling the students about the community and the variety of services offered at the University, which made Eastern stand out in Alyssa's mind "more than any other university. I asked her about the education program, finding that ENMU has one of the best education programs."
Alyssa received a four-year scholarship to ENMU, which, along with the education program and the "welcoming environment," helped her decide Eastern was the right fit for her. "I still strongly believe attending ENMU is the best decision I have ever made," she shares.
What she enjoys most about life as a Greyhound is joining a "bigger community, another family. Everyone I meet at ENMU, from other students to staff to professors, I feel that we are all part of the same family, the Greyhound family." She once met an ENMU alumnus, who had graduated ten years prior, in Gallup. The experience stuck out to her because "he spoke about Eastern so highly, and with such gratitude, it very much strengthened the community of ENMU that I have experienced."
She explains that her role as a President's Ambassador has "really expanded my perspective of how strong the community at Eastern is. I think that when I share that feeling with the prospective students I interact with and give tours to, I help strengthen the already amazing community we have. Eastern has become my home in such a short amount of time."
The three-time dean's list honoree has enjoyed her math and education courses, explaining that they "have given me so many new perspectives on teaching, and have continuously prepared me for my future career. I think that my classes have challenged me in a way that only strengthens my desire for teaching. I have observed amazing teachers teach, and I hope to be a teacher like the professors I have had at ENMU."
Her advice to students interested in pursuing a degree in education is to try to get as much experience as possible: "If you get the chance to experience working with others and helping them learn, take it without hesitation. The classes can be challenging, so don't be afraid to ask for help. We have awesome people on our campus ready and willing to help. For any education majors, I think getting involved with the education clubs on campus is really beneficial and become a tutor if you can!"
Alyssa shares that the Golden Student Success Center is her favorite place on campus to study, especially since she can grab a bagel at Einstein Bros. Bagels on the first floor. "It has really become my second home in Portales," she says.
Her hobbies include playing softball in the summer, hiking and camping whenever she can and reading novels. When she is home in Gallup, she likes to babysit her nephews and younger cousins.