Doctoral Scholarship Recipient

Lilliam Martinez

Lilliam Martinez’s dreams for her own education began in 1984, when she began working toward an associate’s degree at Capital Community College.  Balancing both full-time and part-time jobs, a family, and rigorous schoolwork, Lilliam completed her associate’s degree, but wasn’t satisfied to stop there.  Understanding her potential, she began a lifelong journey through higher education, earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and returning to her alma mater, Capital.

During the past 15 years, Lilliam’s leadership, innovation, and fortitude have paved the way for academic advances and socially relevant change within the college.  Lilliam was at once the single Latina faculty member at Capital and the sole female in the college’s psychology department.

“I learned to select the battles I would fight—and that I had to excel in my teaching,” Lilliam explained. “I knew I was there for a purpose, and that was for the students.”

Not only did Lilliam excel in teaching, but she also played in integral role in the college’s academic and administrative future. As one of the first faculty members to utilize online learning, she introduced many students to the option of learning at a distance, which has enabled so many to achieve their educational dreams without sacrificing career and family. Lilliam also created the college’s first mental health program, allowing students a more seamless transition between earning an associate’s degree in psychology and completing a bachelor’s degree in social work or psychology.

Most impressive, however, is Lilliam’s role in Achieving the Dream, a national initiative created to support the success of community college students who may struggle with more basic learning skills.  Providing leadership for this initiative on Capital’s campus, Lilliam oversaw grant funds, individual strategy teams, and the creation of support programs that are still in place today, helping minority students, specifically Latino and African American males, succeed in their studies.

Now, Lilliam applies her leadership and dedication to social justice to her work within the community, as well.  Just recently, she was praised by a government official for her work as part of her Psy.D. program practicum experience—just one facet of real-world learning happening at Union each day.

“It was like everything came together at that moment,” Lilliam explained.  “I didn’t have my books or faculty members around me.  Everything I have gathered in this program came together.  I didn’t realize how much I knew.”

Lilliam will continue to apply her studies to her own world of teaching and psychology, modeling the Union mission and vision in her everyday life.  She added, “I’m able to provide my students with more depth and understanding—and that’s because of Union.”