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College of Engineering at The University of Texas at San Antonio Online Magazine

Meet Lillian Martinez
At San Antonio engineering firm Big Red Dog, civil engineering major Lillian Martinez works side-by-side with fellow engineering student and intern Joel NiƱo as well as Amanda Saldivar, a UTSA alumna and assistant project manager at the company.

Meet Lillian Martinez

This non-traditional college student has thrown herself in the college experience

Lillian Martinez, a senior civil engineering major, is passionate about service. With over 1,400 hours of community service under her belt, it is hard to imagine that she has time for much else outside of her engineering coursework and volunteer hours. But this wife and mother of two somehow manages to do more in just a few weeks than some students do in an entire semester.

"Volunteering is a way for me to give back and support others that have similar goals," said Martinez. "My husband has been so supportive of me, and I want to pay it forward to others who may not have as strong of a support system as I do.

A transfer student from San Antonio College, Martinez came to UTSA in the summer of 2014 as a participant in the Transfer Academy for Tomorrow's Engineers (TATE) program. The intensive six week summer bridge program is a collaborative initiative between UTSA and Alamo Community Colleges and was created to promote a seamless transfer of community college students into the UTSA College of Engineering.

"The TATE program was the first opportunity I had to participate in research," said Martinez. "The professors, advisers and peers in the program helped me develop confidence through my transition to UTSA. I would have not become involved on campus nor developed the friendships I have now if it wasn't for TATE."

By fall 2014, Martinez was fully acclimated and thriving at UTSA. She joined the UTSA student chapter of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists (MAES), and was elected president of the group. At that year's MAES National Symposium, Martinez received the top MAES award, the Lockheed Martinez Madrina Scholarship. Then in 2015, Martinez again was recognized at the MAES National Symposium, winning a President's Award.

"Lillian is passionate, fair-minded, selfless, and genuine," said William Davis, MAES National President. "She is the type of person not interested in credit, but rather in lifting up those around her."

Additionally, Martinez was elected as the MAES National Student Representative, meaning that she helps oversee 40 student chapters nationwide.

"I love being the National Student Representative. I get to meet students from all over the country who have similar stories and common goals," she said. "We all come from humble beginnings, but I know that we all make a difference."

Martinez volunteers at Science Extravaganza hosted by the Mexican American Engineers and Scientists student organization on UTSA Main Campus. The event brought local high school students to UTSA to participate in interactive engineering activities and to tour the campus.

In addition to her involvement with MAES, Martinez recently began working 20 hours per week in an internship at Texas-based engineering firm Big Red Dog.

The best part of working at Big Red Dog was learning from experienced project managers and engineers," she said. "My recommendation to all engineering students is to have at least one internship to get a hands-on experience."

At her internship, Martinez has the chance to learn side-by-side with other UTSA interns and alumni. Russell Yeager, vice president of the San Antonio Big Red Dog office, says that the company is committed to partnering with UTSA to help up-and-coming engineers progress in their careers and develop into successful professionals.

"Lillian was an excellent candidate and expressed desire to learn and expand her career horizon," said Russell. "We thought her background and current leader-ship roles with UTSA student groups would bring a great perspective."

With the end of the semester around the corner, Martinez isn't slowing down. Not only will she be taking three summer courses, she will also be attending a MAES conference in Anaheim, California. But thankfully, Martinez has set aside some time for a much-needed vacation. She and her family will be visiting Disneyland.

"I am really looking forward to spending some time with my family," she said. "If it wasn't for their love and support, I wouldn't be where I am today."

– Story and photo by Deborah Silliman

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