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March 28, 2013

A Shining Light

Chicago PathwayConnect student Letizia Martinez talks about her experiences overcoming trials and finding hope in PathwayConnect

As a young girl, Letizia Kenoshann Martinez met several challenges along the already difficult road of childhood. Letizia lost her hearing at a young age and only knew Spanish at the time, so it was difficult to communicate. Her relationship with her parents was already rocky, and this development only made it harder. Abuse, neglect, and abandonment were common in her childhood.

After graduating from high school, the reality of life hit fast and hard. “I attempted several colleges, but I did not adjust at all and dropped out within weeks of starting,” Letizia said.

She traveled the world over, spending time in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. She then returned to Chicago and is currently enrolled in PathwayConnect there. Letizia was hesitant at first, but her adoptive parents encouraged her to push herself to succeed. “I had zero faith in myself to attend consistently, do well in classes, or even complete one semester of PathwayConnect,” Letizia says. Luckily, she proved herself wrong and finished the semester with high marks in all of her classes.

According to Letizia, “The most significant experience was to actually complete a semester of college. It was an incredible, personal high for me to know that I am capable; I am worth the time and patience it required to invest in my own future. My self-esteem no longer needed validation from others; instead, I looked within myself and to Heavenly Father.”

Letizia would like to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. She has learned that life is what you make it, and she is determined to continue conquering the shadow that she sometimes feels around her. “I intend to bring honor, integrity, and ethical awareness to my thinking and behavior no matter where I am or what I am doing, redefining my character into something both God and I can be proud of,” she said.

Letizia’s advice to other PathwayConnect students is, “Treat the PathwayConnect experience like a lifeline to your dreams. This education is not about rote memorization and passing quizzes. You miss out on so many spiritual blessings that can be found in the classroom, your daily life, and in your spiritual growth. Be an active learner.”

BYU-Idaho’s Learning Model has also helped Letizia to learn more about herself, about others around her, and about the things that she is studying. The Learning Model has helped her focus during class and truly concentrate on what is being taught. The model has also helped her build friendships within her PathwayConnect group.

Letizia has several other goals that she intends to accomplish. She explains her inspiration and determination: “My biggest aspiration that has carried me through my toughest moments in life is my desire to be like the moon.  I had a vivid dream as a pre-teen that I was the moon, and the stars around me were all the lives I positively touched with my unknown talent and potential. I interpreted that as I live in a world where abuse, neglect, and abandonment were gray areas and hard to prove or shed light upon. No matter how dark it gets, I hope the glow of my light will reach others near and far and inspire them to change their circumstances, too.”

No matter how dark it gets, I hope the glow of my light will reach others near and far.

It is safe to say that she has overcome the shadow that once followed her. Letizia created a list of ways to get involved and succeed in PathwayConnect, which has aided student growth in the Chicago PathwayConnect site. This location currently has a fully functional student council, and Letizia would like to see a flurry of activities be developed. “I have no doubt that if everyone pulled together and stated what they would like to see or do to have a great college experience that it would be a hit,” she said.

Letizia Kenoshann Martinez will surely continue to shine throughout her life and at her PathwayConnect site in Chicago.

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