Lincoln Academy Award winner making a differenceBy Jennifer Leovy
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 Capitols 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 governors 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 Universitys Assistant Dean of Students in the College, said, We are extremely proud of Pauls academic achievements. He has ably made the transition to the University and successfully balanced his academic work with his commitment to Chicagos Hispanic community.