December 10, 1998
Vol. 18 No. 6

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    [paul martinez, left] by jason smith  
    Paul Martinez (at left) tutors a student in the Latino neighborhood of Pilsen. Martinez is the most recent winner of the Lincoln Academy Award presented to him by Gov. Jim Edgar and his wife Brenda.

    Lincoln Academy Award winner making a difference

    By Jennifer Leovy
    News Office

    Fourth-year Chicago student Paul Martinez, who founded Movimiento Estudiantio Chicano de Aztlan, a student-run organization focusing on Chicano issues, is one of 200 Illinois college seniors to receive a Student Laureate Medallion from the Lincoln Academy of Illinois.

    Martinez received his award from Gov. Jim Edgar and his wife, Brenda, in the State Capitol’s House of Representatives chamber in Springfield, Ill., in October. The Lincoln Academy honors students for overall excellence in academic and extracurricular activities. A reception at the governor’s executive mansion followed the ceremony.

    Martinez established MEChA “to build a bridge between the University and the community. We tutor students in the Pilsen neighborhood,” he said. MEChA also is referred to as the Chicano Student Movement for Aztlan, the mythological birthplace of the Aztecs.

    Martinez said he comes from humble beginnings and had no aspirations to attend college, but at the last minute, he decided to attend the College of Lake County. He said once he decided “it was time to grow up,” he committed to his studies, eventually transferring to Chicago for his third and fourth years.

    “Now I want to become a teacher to help students who may be in the position I was,” said Martinez. “I want to give a push to so-called ‘underprivileged’ students who often fall through the cracks, who are perceived as not smart enough.”

    Susan Art, the University’s Assistant Dean of Students in the College, said, “We are extremely proud of Paul’s academic achievements. He has ably made the transition to the University and successfully balanced his academic work with his commitment to Chicago’s Hispanic community.”