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Meet Minerva Martinez

Minerva Martinez thought she wanted a career in criminal justice until the birth of her daughter led her to change her mind. She found her new career interest through an internship offered by MiraCosta College.
Martinez worked as an intern in spring 2024 at Operation Hope North County, helping prepare distributions from its food pantry and handing out essentials like diapers and shoes to those in need.

“This internship helped me to tell myself that this is what I want to do,” Martinez said. “It’s what I want to study and go for.”

Martinez, who immigrated from Mexico when she was eight years old, had previously taken classes in criminal justice at MiraCosta College. She took a break from college to work for three years in asset protection at J.C. Penney, apprehending shoplifters. 

When her daughter, Aurora, was born in 2022, Martinez shifted her career goals away from criminal justice.
“I decided that’s not my field. It was not the job I saw myself doing,” she said. “I decided I’m going to call MiraCosta College and go back to school.”

Martinez changed her major to sociology and discovered that many of the credits she had earned previously would apply.

She heard about a program called Carreras sin Banderas, Spanish for Careers Without Barriers, that helps Hispanics with careers and work experience. Martinez was selected for a 150-hour internship as a resource development assistant at Operation Hope North County. MiraCosta College paid for 90% of her salary through a grant from the California Student Aid Commission, and Operation Hope covered the rest.

Martinez said interacting with homeless and impoverished people broadened her perspective.

“You see the reasons why people fall into poverty,” she said. “It’s not the stereotypes that people have that they are lazy. Once you start connecting with them, that’s not the case. They’re so hard-working. They have to choose between rent and food.”

Adrianna Furtado, Martinez’ supervisor at Operation Hope North County, praised her work at the nonprofit.
“Minerva jumped right in. She had a great attitude and was willing to be here to oversee our volunteers as well as work alongside us when we needed her,” Furtado said. “She was reliable and dependable. She was also very engaging with our community.”

Martinez, a Vista resident, will be graduating from MiraCosta College in May and is transferring to San Diego State University. She plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in social work. She would like to have a career working at a nonprofit like Operation Hope and is interested in doing research on the causes and effects of poverty and homelessness.

“This is where I want to be,” she said. “I’m here to help and serve the community that has given me a lot.”

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