Educated Woman of the Week- Sumiko Martinez

Sumiko Martinez
Community Outreach Officer and PhD student

Where did you go to school and what did you study?
Emery County High School, College of Eastern Utah, Westminster College, and the University of Utah. I earned a B.A. in English from Westminster, a M.S. in Communication from the U of U, and I am now working on a PhD in Communication at the U of U.

Tell us about your school/work life:
I work as a Community Outreach Officer for the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority, where I help high school students navigate the financial aid application process and educate the public about the resources available to help pay for college. I do a lot of writing for different audiences, program planning, and public speaking, all of which have been informed by my liberal arts education. My favorite part of my job is working with students and helping them to take control of their plan for the future. Education is a key that opens so many doors, and lacking an education can end up trapping you somewhere you don’t want to be. This is a really personal mission for me, because I was raised by a single mother who always stressed the importance of education, especially for women.

My academic work focuses on the intersection of rhetoric and K-12 education, specifically examining the ways that students are constituted as agentic subjects by the various discourses surrounding K-12 education policy. I’m really excited about the possibilities for teaching children different non-violent conflict resolution practices and for contributing to a more sustainable, socially equitable educational system.I think it’s a moral imperative to take action through education to make the world a more peaceful place.

Tell us about your life outside of school/work:
I grew up in Massachusetts right next to the ocean, and I still love the sea. I love traveling with my family, reading, cooking, wandering around with my two dogs Oscar and Hooch, and scuba diving. I think sharks are the coolest animals. I’m a relentless optimist.

Are there any books or other resources that have particularly helped you reach this level of awesomeness?
Oh my goodness, so many – I could go on forever. One of the most important things in my life has not necessarily been reading books “about” gaining success, but rather developing a voracious appetite for reading in general. Everything I read teaches me something and causes me to think critically about my own role in the world.

My high school English teacher, Diane Carter, gave me a copy of Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet” when I graduated, and I have taken that with me nearly everywhere. It’s one of the most compelling and simple books I’ve ever read and I turn to it whenever I feel lost or adrift. My favorite line from that book is, “You would know the secret of death. But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?”

“Anne of Green Gables” by L.M. Montgomery was a childhood favorite and it is always fresh; Anne reminds me that you need a certain amount of verve and a willingness to get into trouble if you want to accomplish anything worthwhile.

I recently read Roxane Gay’s “Bad Feminist” for the first time and fell head over heels in love with it. It is a funny, witty, emotional reminder that a commitment to feminism is messy, hard to define, and constantly shifting in different contexts. It is also a sort of call to arms for taking the goals of gender justice and equality seriously and really putting our money where our mouth is. It is an incredibly inspiring and motivating book.

How do you de-stress?
I have to plan for it. This might sound cheesy, but I color-code my planner and use hot pink highlighter to note the self-care things. If there is ever a week that doesn’t have at least one hot pink highlighted item, I know I need to re-prioritize something. My favorite way to de-stress is to go for a long solo ride on my motorcycle…but that gets tricky in the winter, so I also take my dogs for long walks, journal about whatever I’m struggling with, and drink lots of tea. And sometimes I just lie on the floor and focus on breathing.

I do think it’s really important to prioritize caring for yourself. I have found that I have a much greater capacity for everything – work, volunteering, academic pursuits, personal relationships – when I take good care of myself. This can be so hard, because I often feel guilty for taking time to myself, but I fight against that guilt! It’s not productive.

What does goal setting looks like for you?
For me, goal setting is just another planning process, and I love planning things! The things that help me to achieve my goals are: writing them down, being specific about what success entails, and seeking help from others when I do not have the knowledge or the skills to complete a project on my own. This is another area where I rely heavily on having an old-school planner; every week I can see clearly where I am spending my time, and whether or not that is working toward achieving my goals.

I also think that goal-setting is partly a process of figuring out where I’m going to fail, and allowing some space and/or time to fail. I’ve learned a lot from screwing up, and that helps me to be realistic and meticulous as I plan for future goals!

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