Barrington Women’s Club scholarship accelerates BHS grads’ career path
Updated: March 1, 2013 6:16AM
BARRINGTON — Luis Martinez graduated from Barrington High School in 2010, a year early, so he could get a jump-start on college.
Now, with the help of a two-year scholarship awarded by the Barrington Women’s Club, he is attending Elgin Community College, working to become an auto mechanic.
Martinez, who was born in Mexico and moved to the area as a child, applied for the scholarship in 2010. At first, Martinez admitted, he thought winning the scholarship was a long shot. But when members of the Barrington Women’s Club read his essay, they were quickly impressed.
“It was pretty much writing who I am,” said Martinez, explaining that he wasn’t sure if he expressed himself well because English is his second language.
In the essay, Martinez wrote about his dream of one day owning an auto repair shop.
Martinez’s older brother is also attending school to work in auto body repair field. The goal, he said, is to one day go into business together.
“It could be a place to take your car and do everything — mechanics, electrical and body work,” said Martinez. “That’s the ultimate goal.”
In attaining the scholarship, it wasn’t only the essay that showed off Martinez’s drive, however. Nearing the end of his high school career, Martinez also took on extra courses and attended summer school.
At Elgin Community College, Martinez took three classes a day while working full time at an auto repair shop.
“It was difficult and fun at the same time,” said Martinez, who first became interested in cars while working at an auto repair shop with his uncle.
“Every car is different,” he said. “It’s kind of like being a doctor. It’s evolving every day.”
Martinez is on his way to earn an Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certificate, which would allow him to move up in the automotive world.
Pointing out that many of his college classmates are adults who have gone back to school, Martinez said being one of the younger students helps inspire him at school and at work.
“At the shop, my goal is to help build the shop and get more customers,” he said. “If the shop grows, I’m going to grow too.”
His early successes are in part thanks to the assistance from the Barrington Women’s Club, which awards two and four-year scholarships every year. Lisa Frese, chair of the Women’s Club Scholarships and Philanthropy, said the group looks for students dedicated to academics and community involvement. The essay, she said, is a very important aspect of the application.
“Over the years, there have been some amazing essays,” Frese said. “It’s where the personality comes through and the motivation to succeed.”
Frese described Martinez’s essay as heartfelt and real. She noted that the Women’s Club also has awarded several of its scholarships to high school graduates who go into a trade like auto repair or heating and air-conditioning.
“We don’t always look for the traditional college-bound kids,” she said.
Nancy Crowther, Barrington High School guidance resource coordinator, added that Martinez has kept in frequent contact with those who helped him along his way.
“It was a delight to work with him,” Crowther said.