Rising Up To Lead

Allison Guzman-Martinez is the Student Trustee for the 2018-19 academic year.

There was a time when all Allison Guzman-Martinez had was hope. She and her two sisters, brother and mother had left Long Island because they could no longer afford to live there. They wound up in downtown Syracuse in the Salvation Army’s Emergency Family Shelter where they would live for one month. Guzman-Martinez was a junior in high school. Every morning she would board a Centro bus to get to school. Survival was the goal. “At the time I didn’t see myself being successful in college. I want people to know you don’t have to start in a good place to end up with a bright and successful future.”

After graduating from Westhill High School in 2017 Guzman-Martinez came to OCC. Today her future is bright. Later this month on the morning of September 25, she’ll walk into room 210 in the Whitney Applied Technology Center and sit at a long table in the center of the room along with Onondaga Community College’s Board of Trustees. As the new Student Trustee she will sit side-by-side with bank presidents, school superintendents and other high-powered local executives as she debates and votes on resolutions critical to the future of the college. “I’m excited as a woman and as a Latina to really come forth and be a representative for our students on campus. It’s an opportunity to bring diversity and a new perspective, I’m hoping students can see me as a beacon of hope and an inspiration and know they can succeed too.”

Guzman-Martinez’s parents are natives of Honduras. Spanish was always and still is today the language of choice at home. Her ability to speak two languages fluently led to her working as a translator for Spanish speaking patients at SUNY Upstate Medical University Hospital. “I liked helping the Latino community because patients do come in to the hospital scared. We’re there to comfort them, to defend the patient, to protect their rights and to make sure they’re not violated. We’re the bridge between doctor and patient. It’s been a blessing to have that job and opportunity.” Guzman-Martinez entered OCC as a Humanities major but her time as a translator changed everything. “Working with patients opened me up to the medical field. I decided to major in Mathematics & Science because I want to be a doctor.”

Guzman-Martinez admits when she graduated from high school, OCC was her only option. She’s made the most of her time here. Guzman-Martinez has served the campus community as president of Spanish Club and as a member of the Basic (Brothers and Sisters in Christ) Club. Now she is adding Student Trustee and Diversity Council to the list. “I’m proud to be part of this school. This is a building block and foundation for where I’m going to go. Onondaga Community College will always be the place that led to wherever I go.”

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