Story originally published in The Apple Leaf June 4, 2014.
She took the stage in a blue evening gown, with lights shining bright and her eyes on the prize. She didn’t think she would make it this far in the competition, but she knew looking out into the audience that somebody, somewhere out there, was completely buying into the message she delivered.
While senior Guadalupe Martinez didn’t win a spot on the Apple Blossom Royal Court, the prize she did receive was even better.
“It was scary at first,” Martinez said. “I remember shaking while I gave my speech. But at the same time it was like a moment of bravery. Once I was up there, I knew this was my time. I can do this. It was the time to prove myself — that I could do something I had wanted to do.”
Martinez moved to America at age 9. She moved from school to school, ending up finally in Wenatchee.
“It was very different. I was very excited. I came with hopes even though I was young. I knew I was going to get more opportunities here (in America), and it was a challenge because I had to learn a whole new different language. It was more that I had to challenge myself because I knew my parents only understood a small amount of English,” Martinez said.
She used to consider herself the “shy and quiet girl,” but early this spring, Martinez took to the stage during the Apple Blossom Pageant, and learned a little bit more about herself during the process. Following the speech, feedback flooded in to Martinez — her speech was a hit.
“It was surprising because I didn’t know I was going to make that big of an impact on people,” Martinez said. “They didn’t even know me and I was thinking that I would not get their attention … I got a lot of feedback. They said they did not know me, but they definitely liked my speech and they hoped that I would win.”
Martinez had to choose one word that described her. She chose determined. “It goes back to the fact that I said I want to be someone different and be different in my family. I want to be a good role model for my brother and sister. I want them to go higher than me,” she said.
She plans to attend Wenatchee Valley College this fall and get the general education classes out of the way, then decide if she will pursue a career in the medical or law field. Martinez is a first generation college student from her family, following behind her two older sisters.
“My family didn’t get the opportunity to go [to college] for what they wanted,” Martinez said. “I know they want me to go for what I want, and I want to make them proud. I want to show them it’s possible.”
After obtaining her degree, Martinez hopes to return to Wenatchee and pursue the career of her dreams. Her family currently works in the orchard industry.
“I want to help [my family] stop working because orchard work isn’t easy,” Martinez said. “It’s tough work. I know that because I’ve been there. I want to help them.”
Martinez doesn’t want others to be afraid of trying new things. “Life may get tough, but it’s better to go for it,” Martinez said. “Life is not easy. Sometimes by going through tough things, you learn bigger and more important lessons than by not going through them at all.”