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Soccer balls sit outside the goal during the annual Harambee Soccer Tournament.

Evelyn Martinez

Chicago, Illinois

Majors in English and Educational Studies

Evelyn, who plans to become an English teacher, works with an English as a Second Language (ESL) program in the Galesburg community.

Evelyn Martinez smiles and poses with her arm on a railing inside Alumni Hall

Can you talk about your involvement with the ESL program?

Knox has a program called KnoxCorps, and essentially the goal is to connect students from the campus to the greater Galesburg community. There are different positions throughout the Galesburg area. My position is in the Regional Office of Education, and one of the programs that they offer is an ESL course for adults. Part of my job entails helping with the recruitment of volunteers who offer extra tutoring for our learners. A lot of learning happens in the classroom, and a great reinforcement of that learning happens when those students meet with volunteers. It's a way to provide individual learning experiences for all our learners. 

What are your career plans?

I want to be a high school English teacher, and it's a very solid plan, actually. I have a (Golden Apple) scholarship that involves an agreement that, upon graduation, for the first several years, I will be teaching in a school in Illinois.

Why do you want to be a teacher?

From a very young age, I was invested in the educational field. My aunt was an elementary school teacher. Every summer growing up, I would go to a classroom and help her set it up. That's where I would, in my imagination, embody the role of a teacher. I went through different career paths in my head that I could possibly pursue, but in my senior year of high school, I was hit again with the idea of being an educator. I was going through a very rough patch, and an English teacher pulled me aside and brought my spirits up by saying: “If teaching is something that you want to pursue, it is totally something you can do.” I was reminded of the power behind teaching, and it was the reassurance that I needed. 

How did Knox come to your attention, and what made you decide to attend?

Oh my goodness, Knox and I go way back. Back in middle school, each academic class had a division, and each division was represented by a university or a school that the teacher went to. My math teacher (Kenji Mori ’07) went to Knox. That's when the name entered my head. My parents never went to college, so it's not like they had an alma mater. The name Knox stuck with me all through high school. I toured Knox during the summer of my junior year. I was looking for a tight-knit community, and I saw that at Knox. Once I started meeting faculty, it felt like a place where I could thrive. 

You mentioned that you're a first-generation student. Do you mind sharing a little bit about the challenges and the joys that you’ve experienced as a first-generation student?

Something that Knox has taught me, that I'm incredibly grateful for, is that there's no shame in not knowing things. That's just something that comes with being a first-generation student. Knox has provided the space to ask those questions and to be curious, because there is a lot of curiosity that comes with that title (of first-generation student). There are a lot of things that are unknown, like financial aid, course selection, even choosing the right dining plan. That's another big reason why I really value faculty availability for students because Knox values curiosity, and, on top of that, Knox also provides the means to respond to that curiosity.

What advice would you offer to prospective Knox students and future Knox students?

I think one great piece of advice is to open every single email from Knox the moment you get it because those are little gold mines. At Knox, every opportunity that I've had has come from an email. There are so many opportunities there with scholarships and all the great things that Knox has to offer.

In addition to her involvement with KnoxCorps and the community ESL program, Evelyn is a member of Tri Delta sorority and a writing tutor in the Red Room.

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Printed on Saturday, June 15, 2024