Oscar excited to attend Vassar

Oscar Martinez, Valley High School & Project Youth OCBF

Higher Education Mentoring Program Graduate

Class of 2021, Vassar University


Óscar attended Valley High School as part of the graduating Class of 2021. High school was a double-edged sword for Oscar; for him it was characterized with joy, but also was attributed with many hardships that he had to endure. Oscar’s high school career was a time full of growth and lessons learned through his involvement in a variety of clubs and extracurriculars. Since early middle school he was a part of a community organization called “Resilience Orange County.” Through this organization, he led youth meetings and discussed community issues, facilitated the planning process of conferences for Santa Ana youth, and attended state-wide workshops to learn more about topics like the school-to-prison pipeline and societal inequities. Additionally, he has been a part of his school’s Key Club since sophomore year––secretary(11th) and President(12th). Through community service and advocacy for social justice, Oscar has developed a desire to impact people on a broader scale.


For that reason, he sought to study political science and psychology to better understand the implications of trauma on human behavior, such as voting. He hopes to transform the concept of mental health from a taboo to a priority and a necessity in Latinx communities and spaces by becoming a psychologist. To fulfill his goals, he will be attending Vassar University in upstate New York in the fall of 2021. Vassar, out of the 14 of 17 schools he received acceptances from, encapsulates what he has been striving to find in a college. According to Oscar, “It has an open curriculum which allows me to take classes in any subject that interests me, and it has a super supportive community that emphasizes collaboration over competition.”


Oscar’s family is a bit nervous for him to leave the state, but he reminds them that he is leaving with the intention of bettering himself in order to help out others. He is excited to see his younger sister blossom into an ambitious individual in the four years he will be away.


Through the Higher Education Mentoring Program, Oscar bolstered his knowledge about college. The monthly workshops reminded him of the journey that he is embarking on, and as he says “I am not alone, for I have a grand support system helping me through each step of the way. Because of HEM, my parents are comfortable with their son going to college across the country. HEM expanded my parents’ knowledge about college through workshops and interactions with my mentor. My mentor kept me on top of deadlines and answered any questions I had about college. I am eternally grateful for the support system I have created with my mentors, teachers, friends, and family. I owe it to everyone I have interacted with these past four years.” We are so proud of Oscar and look forward to him returning to our community to make strong and lasting impacts that help others.