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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Profiles in Success: Walter Martinez

Thousands of miles and a lifetime away from the place where he was born, UMB student Walter Martinez strives for success while exploring his roots by studying the political landscape of his native Puerto Rico.

A political science major in the honors program, Martinez was born in Puerto Rico in 1969. Although his family left there in 1972 for Illinois, Martinez has used his senior honors thesis as a chance to learn about his native community.

The thesis paper is based on the legal status of Puerto Rico and was presented at the UMass Board of Trustees meeting, the State Undergraduate Research Conference, and the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in Indianapolis.

Martinez, who entered UMB in the fall of 2001 with no serious interest in politics, attributes his intellectual growth and political awareness to the honors program. “I had very little interest in political issues before I started at UMass Boston,” he admits.

“The honors program played a major role in turning an ambitious, yet academically insecure student like me, into someone who discovered that the best part of learning is not so much the final product, but the process involved,” says Martinez.

He also credits the program with helping him to get in touch with his roots, saying past projects had “helped to inspire my interest in what became my honors thesis topic this year.”

Elizabeth Bussiere, a professor of political science at UMB and Martinez’s main advisor for his honors thesis, describes him as “enormously hard-working, self-disciplined, and well-organized,” revealing that he is “blessed with abundant intellectual curiosity.”

Bussiere has worked closely with Martinez to facilitate and encourage his success. She provided him with feedback, wrote letters of recommendation for him, and helped him choose graduate programs that suited his goals. Bussiere recommends that serious students should “never feel bashful in showing up at faculty’s office” for guidance.

Martinez also shared with me his thoughts on how UMB students can reach their goals.

He implores students who want to achieve success in their fields to spend time with people they admire, saying “some of the best inspiration to me has come from studentswhose academic work I admired.”

He suggests, “communicate your hopes with people who will support you” and to communicate with professors who will “provide you the opportunities to make those goals become reality.”

He also urges students to get involved in politics, saying “I believe that all people need to show at least some interest in political issues and events, simply because every event or issue has consequences” and asks them to “participate in some fashion.”

And who does Martinez admire? Well, he calls his classmates with full time jobs and families “my heroes on campus.” He continued, “I admire the activist students on our campus, because they have figured out at young age what it took me over 30 years to learn.”

Martinez considers himself lucky to be able to accomplish the kind of success he has realized at UMB. He credits his partner of five years for helping him make this success possible, saying “My partner has been extremely supportive of me during my time here.”

In September Martinez will be starting a Ph.D. program at Columbia University and looks forward to a career as a professor of political science.