As a child, Salvador Martinez’ sister teased him. He was not the best reader, but he was great at math and a decent drawer. She encouraged him in another way, saying, “He’ll build houses one day.” She hit the nail right on the head. Nearly twenty years have passed, and Martinez is set to graduate from Sampson Community College this fall with his Associate in Applied Science in Building Construction Technology. However, it did not all come easily for Martinez.
As a student at Clinton High School, Martinez took Carpentry and first discovered his fondness for construction. Around that same time, his daughter was born. With a child to raise, Martinez barely believed he would graduate high school, so attending college never entered his plans.
“When I graduated high school, I just started working. But, when I finally felt like I was able to go back to school, I took advantage of it. And, I had support from my mom,” Martinez stated.
Five years after high school graduation, Martinez restarted his educational journey in 2019 by enrolling in the Building Construction Technology program at SCC. There, he found mentors in instructors, Barney Grady and Dustin Hatcher. After all those years, his love for hands-on work and building never left.
Construction Division Chair. Barney Grady, says Martinez’ self-determination and desire to learn were evident from day one, making him an eager student, but also a joy to teach.
“Salvador is a student I have great admiration for, when life gave him hurdles, it would have been easy for him to give up on his dreams, but he never did. He returned after nearly five years with a very mature and goal-oriented approach to his academics. He had to balance the responsibilities of a student, father, and owner of a construction company without neglecting any of them. Sal has been a leader in the classroom, and it was a pleasure to be one of his instructors,” Grady shared.
Graduating from the Building Construction Technology program will not halt Martinez’ advancement and educational journey. He already consulted with his instructors about the steps needed to gain his General Contractors License. Ultimately, he hopes to become an architect, but for now, he is satisfied with the work he does.
As a student, Martinez’ efforts and excellence in the classroom were evident. This fall, he was a recipient of the Michael Gore Scholarship, one of several scholarships available through the Sampson Community College Foundation.
Martinez says returning to earn his degree helped him achieve a goal he strived for since he was young, but it also showed him values he hopes to instill in his children, Daisy and Salvador, Jr. For other students interested in returning to college after years away, Martinez shared nothing but encouragement.
“If you can come back to school and you’re given the opportunity, you should do it. It’s helpful. I’m glad I went back, and I want to make sure my kids go back to school. And, I know I made my mom proud,” Martinez commented.
Martinez knows that his journey is a special one. After all these years, it appears that his sister’s teasing may be what pushed him to accomplish his biggest dreams.
About Sampson Community College: Sampson Community College is a member of the North Carolina Community College System, located in Clinton, NC in Sampson County. The college offers many programs to include two-year degrees, college transfer, continuing education and workforce development options, and early college education.