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No Barrier to Success

Martin Perez

As an English Language Learner in elementary school, Martin Perez had fallen behind, and his insecurities resulted in poor behavior. “Dedicated teachers recognized my potential and pushed me to strive. This is why I joined BUILD as a literacy mentor.” A program of the Public Service Center, BUILD (Berkeley United in Literacy Development) matches elementary school students with reading mentors. As a UC Berkeley student, Martin co-directed a BUILD literacy team and started a BUILD mentoring program at a new school. He also participated in another PSC program, Alternative Breaks, addressing immigration and social justice issues along the US/Mexico border, during a spring break. “My experiences with PSC prepared me to assume a leadership role in any situation. They taught me to assess a challenge, measure my abilities, and take action.”

Take action he did. The first in his family to graduate from college, Martin went on to become a fifth-grade teacher. He continued to dedicate himself to his two passions: social justice and education. He served on the Committee on Juvenile Courts for the Arizona Supreme Court, and the Educator Retention and Recruitment Task Force for the Arizona Department of Education. He also founded a nonprofit, Arizona2030. Martin’s accolades include being named Alhambra School District’s Teacher of the Year 2014 and Arizona’s 40 Under 40 Hispanic Leaders. “I couldn’t have done this work without the support of PSC donors. Their generosity enabled me to make an impact and, at the same time, discover my career path in education.” About his chosen career, Martin reflects, “I love my job because it is more than a job. It is an avenue to make my community a better place. I have the opportunity to empower children to know there is no barrier to their success.”

Martin Perez
Class of 2010, Major in Social Welfare and Minor in Education, Education Advocacy Fellow and Co-Founder of Arizona2030
Hometown: Compton