Throughout Hispanic Heritage Month, Austin Community College District (ACC) sits down with influential and accomplished faculty and staff to discuss what Hispanic Heritage Month means to them.
In his nine years at ACC, Dr. Guillermo (Willie) Martinez has worked at the Office of Institutional Research & Analytics, within the Computer Studies Department as part of the Accelerated Programmer Training Program, and directly with the provost. For the past four years, he has served as the associate vice president of student analytics & engagement in Student Affairs.
Why is it important to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month? How do you celebrate your heritage?
It's important to recognize and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month because the Hispanic community has always contributed to the development of what we know about the U.S. in the present day. Our familial ancestors have lived in these lands for centuries. In my own immediate family that I know of, my great-great-grandparents were Texans. In fact, Ancestry DNA says my family originated in South Texas (what was once North Mexico).
The Hispanic community is fast growing throughout the U.S. and many have been part of the growing culture for multiple generations, so it is important for all to recognize this Hispanic Heritage past as it will strongly influence the future. The best way to celebrate is to acknowledge this major influence. We have many blended lives today as the U.S. becomes much more diverse than ever before, and we must work together by recognizing each others' strengths to provide a better environment for all. We must all work together, alongside each other, and we should all celebrate one another's cultural heritages because there is beauty everywhere.
What advice would you give to our Hispanic/Latinx students?
Never be afraid to ask for advice. Never be afraid to ask for help. It's okay to feel lost, alone, afraid, and confused with certain situations. As a Hispanic community, we are still navigating new areas in higher education and the workforce, but there are more and more people paving the way. We can all help each other to do better and be better. Like everything in life, especially for the Hispanic community, familia/family is everything and juntos/together we can accomplish anything. As we strive for greater and new opportunities, never feel like you have to do it alone because familia always helps each other.
What is your biggest inspiration?
My mom. Mi madre/mami will always and forever be my biggest inspiration. She has always been the cornerstone of our family and the leader who raised four awesome kids, guided a husband on a much brighter path, and worked hard to ensure we never lacked love or education.
What is your proudest achievement?
I've worked hard my whole life to always do my best to try to be the best. I've never felt I had to be at the top, but my goal is to always try to do my best to be a leader, to accomplish as much as possible, and to have a positive impact in whatever I'm doing with my life. I am proud to say I have been fortunate to have many accomplishments in my life as of today, and I like to think I have contributed towards a better future for all. My hope is that yesterday's greatest achievement won't be my proudest achievement because there is still so much that can be done to make the world a little brighter now and in the future.
How do you foster an inclusive environment?
You have to believe in an inclusive environment by living an inclusive life. This is true for everyday living and for how we work with one another. We can all foster an inclusive environment by not only staying open to differences but by appreciating them and finding the strengths associated with a diverse community of individuals. I love that we say ACC is for everyone, because it is. The culture of care and the desire of education as a precursor to a better life is a shared vision and allows for a successful environment for all our students and staff. If we — faculty, staff, and students — can continue to grow as a family of Riverbats working together, then we will continue to foster a greater inclusive environment.