People and Community University

Involvement and mentorship key to success

Olivia Martinez, a junior studying chemistry at the University of Miami, capitalized on a vibrant campus community to propel her academic career forward.
Olivia Martinez
Transfer student Olivia Martinez has strived to be an active member on campus.

When Olivia Martinez transferred to the University of Miami one year ago, she knew she wanted to hit the ground running. So she wasted no time taking advantage of all that student life has to offer. 

“I really wanted to catch up on the involvement that I had been missing my first two years not being at the U,” said Martinez, a junior from Coral Springs, Florida, studying chemistry. “I wanted to get involved in as much as possible.” 

As a student on both the pre-medical and pre-law tracks, Martinez’s academic curriculum is rigorous. Still, Martinez prioritizes her free time between classes to be an active member of the campus community in hopes of supplementing her in-class learning with a real-world experience. 

Martinez quickly turned to several student organizations that piqued her curiosity and allowed her to pursue her passions. As a member of Minority Women in Medicine, Martinez engages with fellow minority women pursuing careers in medicine to build stronger networks and support systems for the group. She also serves as the co-founder and vice president of a new club called ’Canes Invested, where she works to promote financial literacy among her peers. 

Martinez has also pursued roles as a peer-to-peer mentor. As a Teaching Assistant (TA) for a First Year Directions course, she guides incoming students during their first semester of college. And as an Orientation Fellow (OF) during Orientation ’Cane Kickoff activities, she mentored new transfer students during their transition to the University. 

“I think that my favorite experiences have been as an OF and TA because it was really cool to help other people transition into the University,” she said. “Being a transfer, it feels like we don't really have the same advantages. I really didn't know many people here. So, it was helpful to be able to connect and give [other students] insight and let them know that they weren't alone in any of the struggles that they were facing.” 

Her success in the classroom coupled with her passion for building community earned Martinez induction into the Tau Sigma Transfer National Honor Society last spring. Shortly after her induction, Stephanie Fleitas, associate director for the Department of Orientation and Commuter Student Involvement and advisor of the Tau Sigma chapter at the University, recommended Martinez for a scholarship opportunity through the organization. 

In January, Martinez received notice that she was the recipient of the award in recognition of her of outstanding academic achievement and early involvement opportunities. 

Though Martinez pursues every opportunity in her path, she credits the mentors she has met along the way, like Fleitas and Renee Callan, assistant vice president for student life, for opening doors for her. 

“Olivia is somebody that sought out opportunities in individuals that could pour into her. She was intentional about pursuing opportunities at the University that would support her and her goals,” Callan said. “When you see a student come in who is trying to figure it out, and they end up taking off; whatever role or little piece of advice I gave her to help her do that, that’s why we do what we do.”

Martinez also thanks April Johnson, assistant director for the Camner Center for Academic Resources, for her academic support and mentorship. 

Martinez met Johnson at an event hosted by the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs last fall. 

“From the beginning, Olivia told me that she was serious about her career path in health and community. I saw firsthand how she took charge of her own destiny here at UM and I'm just so proud to be a small piece of that journey for her,” Johnson said.

With the support of her mentors and University community, Martinez’s goal is to complete her bachelor’s degree and pursue a dual juris doctor and doctor of medicine degrees upon graduation. 

“I feel like being here, outside of even just academics, I feel like I really have the community here that stands behind me, and that helps me in every field of life,” she said. “The fact that I have mentors outside of my major, mentors that are really going to be able to give me different perspectives and give me unique ways of looking at things, are valuable life lessons that will help me beyond my time at the University.”