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Humans of the U: Veronica Martinez

“My parents immigrated from Mexico, and I was born here in the United States. I admire the sacrifice they made for me and my siblings. Spanish was my first language and having to learn English when I went to school gave me the same experience of trying to adapt that my parents had. That’s an experience that I always carry with me since I know where I came from.

My mom encouraged me to apply to the University of Utah. I am a first-generation college student in my family, so college applications were difficult. But I also think that being first-generation gives me a lot of strength to keep going since I am part of something bigger than what my family in Mexico is accustomed to. My dad never even had the opportunity to learn how to read, so for me to even be at a university is mind-blowing, and I am grateful.

When it came to paying for college, I was anxious because my family is low-income. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to pay for college myself, so the For Utah scholarship was a blessing and a relief. I’m currently a freshman and am majoring in history, and I hope to go to law school.

I became interested in becoming a lawyer when I was young. My dad was accused of robbery, even though he didn’t do it. Traffic stops—they were always unfair. I sometimes accompanied my parents to court to translate for them or to understand why they were getting these charges. I want to become a lawyer so I can help make the system fairer for people like my parents. I hope to focus on immigration law and helping survivors of domestic violence since some of my aunts have faced domestic violence in their lives. It always bothered me that they didn’t have the resources to deal with it because they were immigrants, or because they were women. What I really want to do is be an advocate for immigrants and for my community.”

—Veronica Martinez, 2022-23 recipient of the For Utah Scholarship