Student Employee of the Year Heydie Martinez Gonzalez attributes her award to the hard work she’s put in, and those who have helped her along the way.
Martinez Gonzalez was announced as the 2021 student employee of the year on June 1, by the CASE Center.
She’s worked at the Transition Success Center for two years, since her start in 2019 at Highline.
“As a former ESOL [English to Speakers of Other Languages] and jumpstart student, I was thinking that I should work in a department whose main focus is to work with immigrants’ students, and TSC was that department.” Martinez Gonzalez said. “I was telling myself [that] this job would give me the opportunity to help and inspire other English learner students, like me, to continue their education no matter what.”
There have been lots of challenges along the way too, such as working a second job, and keeping communication clear and cohesive for students in TSC.
“I have to find the correct words … to explain things to students, so they can understand,” she said. “Because I was in their shoes before, and I know how it feels when people use sophisticated words or high lexical words.”
Having this background has helped Martinez Gonzalez in her work, because she knows where these students are coming from, she said.
“Most of the time language is the main issue, but I do my best to support them because I love and I enjoy what I do,” Martinez Gonzalez said.
And those around her have been a supportive net for her as well.
“My family [has] always been there for me no matter what. My instructor for ESL, Bevin Taylor, motivates and inspires me to go to her office hours to prepare myself for college,” she said. “My jumpstart instructor, Rashmi, is always there for me.”
“Shana Friend, my GED math instructor and Lisa Bernhagen. I also owe many things to my supervisor Laura Yanez, who have been there for me unconditionally,” Martinez Gonzalez said. “Also the Building 1 staff, and my partner.”
Martinez Gonzalez’s time at Highline is also coming to an end soon.
“I am almost done with my AAS in pre-nursing at Highline, and I will be transferring to a university next year. I will surely miss Highline when that day comes,” she said. “And maybe one day … I can give a speech to ESOL students, to motivate [and] encourage them to continue, and that nothing is impossible.”