By Saundra Wilson
Julia Martinez always knew she wanted to be a journalist.
As a young child, she loved translating her hometown newspaper into Spanish every Friday for her grandmother, helping her find the best yard sale deals.
While translating the newspapers English content into Spanish was a tradition for young Martinez, the weekly ritual ignited within her an ability to see the connections between culture, news and storytelling.
More than 15 years later, at 25 years old, her passion for journalism and culture has only grown.
Ink runs in her veins: degrees, internships and business news
Armed with her camera, a pen and a notepad, and a deep respect for culture, Martinez will spend the summer interning at the Puget Sound Business Journal as a part of the Dow Jones News Fund internship program.
Martinez, a senior at Central Washington University, will graduate with degrees in economics and digital journalism.
Cynthia Mitchell, her professor, advisor and newspaper editor at Central Washington University said she has no doubt Martinez will do well in the program.
“She has ink in her veins,” Mitchell said. “She sees stories everywhere that she wants to do.”
Being first: the struggles of paving the way as a first generation college student
Though Martinez has always wanted to be a reporter, she had to blaze the trail to her dreams on her own as a first generation college student.
Born in southwest Texas to migrant farmworkers, she spent her childhood moving between Texas and Ellensburg, Washington about every six months.
“I thought it was fun, it was just like a road trip,” Martinez said.
The migrant life came with it’s challenges, though, according to Martinez.
“There was a weird gap between me and my Mexican family and the white kids in my class,” she said.
Feeling distant from her classmates didn’t stop her from making friend and engaging with people with different life experiences.
“She’s infinitely curious about everything,” said Alyssa Morse-Miller, a close friend Martinez has known since the sixth grade. “She’s always looking to understand other people’s experiences despite how different it might be from hers.”
Morse-Miller said Martinez would get into debates about complicated topics with her high school peers, trying to understand their point of view.
After her parents settled down in Ellensburg so she could go to high school consistently, Martinez decided she wanted to go to college to make her dreams of being a reporter a reality.
However, her academic journey hit a low point when, due to an advisor’s mistake, she lost her financial aid and had to become a part-time student.
She worked three jobs, striving to keep her grades high and school a priority amidst the hustle to make enough money to pay her tuition.
Living at home with her parents throughout her seven years working towards her degree, Martinez said there was a disconnect between her and her parents, who didn’t understand why she had to spend so much time studying at the library.
While her parents didn’t understand everything she was going through as a student, Martinez said they consistently supported and encouraged her.
Finding purpose in her journalism
Martinez said she advocates for diversity in newsrooms and celebrates her own diversity as a journalist.
She looks up to Maria Hinojosa, a NPR journalist, who she says taught her not to be afraid of her name’s Spanish pronunciation.
Martinez believes knowledge of other languages is necessary for a newsroom to be able to get all stories that need to be told.
“We still need Hispanics, we still need African Americans, we still need Asian Americans to be in media,” she said.
And her next steps?
Martinez wants to move back to Texas and report on the border, highlighting connections between economics and culture.
“It’s just the best job in the world and I honestly wouldn’t trade it for anything,” she said.