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Life at ECC easier for father-son duo

Luis A. and Luis J. Martinez

Office Assistant Luis A. Martinez and his father, Biology Professor Luis J. Martinez, MD

Biology Professor Luis J. Martinez, MD, and his son, Office Assistant Luis A. Martinez, share the same name. They also had some challenges during their first time visits to Elgin Community College.

Luis J. Martinez recalls learning about the college about 10 years ago and personally driving to the campus to deliver his application to human resources. While he was impressed with the campus, the empty parking lots puzzled him.

“Nonetheless, I parked and went to the door of the SRC Building (Building B today) and was knocking on the door for like five minutes and no one answered. All of the sudden a police officer drove by and asked what was I doing?,” he said. “I told him I was here to deliver my job application. He laughed and replied that it was spring break and to come back next week.”

Leaving the college, he feared it would be a bad sign for him not getting the job. Fate proved otherwise, as he not only returned to drop off his application, but got the job soon afterward.

His son, Luis A. Martinez, arrived at ECC four years ago after successfully finishing a semester of intensive English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The transition proved to be more difficult than he imagined.

“I had to adapt to the lifestyle of a college student,” he said. “I told myself it was not going to be that much different, but I was wrong on so many levels. I encountered many different obstacles that went from cultural adaptation problems to simple language barriers. I never felt alone and I made friends who were always there to help.”

After getting his bearings, he started at ECC as a student ambassador before working for the Office of Admissions. In addition to his friends and employees, like former admissions director Trevell Eddins, he had his father.

“I have my father, who was always there for me,” Luis A. Martinez said. “He was always there to enlighten the right path and lend me the helping hand to get to the right place.”

We caught up with the Martinezes to ask them some questions about their roles at ECC. Here are their responses.

In your words, what do you do at ECC?

Luis J. Martinez - I teach anatomy and physiology. I joke about it by saying I am in charge of the creepy part of the college, because I am pretty much the de facto professor in charge of the cadaver lab used to teach anatomy and physiology.

I am also the president of the Elgin Community College Faculty Association (ECCFA, the faculty union) and serving my third term as president.

Luis A. Martinez - I work in the Adult Basic Education Center. I give help and support to students who like me have encountered, or are facing difficult situations due to the language barriers, or just simply arriving to the U.S. seeking for a different future.

I like being part of that starting point. It makes me feel like I am returning the favor to the community.

What is your greatest accomplishment since you've been here?

Luis J. Martinez - When I see my students walking on graduation day and being awarded their degrees is my greatest accomplishment. There is no better accomplishment than that. It is very rewarding because my job is all about the students. It is all about them.

Luis A. Martinez - Well, from a student standpoint, I would say graduating in May with an associates in liberal studies and an associates in applied science in histotechnology (say that three times!).

From a staff point of view, one of my accomplishments is to see the students I helped to get started with their high school equivalency courses graduate. It is very nice to see that.

What would you do if you were ECC president for a day?

Luis J. Martinez - I will open a doggy daycare on campus so we can bring our doggies to ECC and they can play with other four-legged friends.

Luis A. Martinez - Easy! Free coffee for everybody!

If there was a movie about your life, who would you want to play you?

Luis J. Martinez - Sir Anthony Hopkins or Jack Nicholson.

Luis A. Martinez - Ryan Reynolds, if you have seen “Deadpool,” you will know why!

What's on your “bucket list?”

Luis J. Martinez - Many things! Learn scuba diving, cross country motorcycle trip, hike the Grand Canyon, visit as many national parks as possible, and a vacation trip with my sweetheart to Positano, Italy, and Bora Bora. 

Luis A. Martinez - The first thing on my bucket list is to go visit my family back in Venezuela. Last time I saw them was five years ago.

What's one fact we should know about you?

Luis J. Martinez - I completed my medical degree at the age of 25 and was the youngest physician ever hired at the hospital where I started my medical practice. 

Luis A. Martinez - I am a really good cook! I haven't really taken any classes. Sometimes I come up with very good recipes on my own and they've worked out well!

What's something about your job that others should know?

Luis J. Martinez - That I use real human specimens to teach anatomy and physiology.

Luis A. Martinez - We serve over 3,000 students each year.

What was your favorite class in school?

Luis J. Martinez - Human anatomy in med school.

Luis A. Martinez - I have a couple they were all in college and here at ECC. The first, CHM-101 with Dr. Miroslav Rezac and the second one ENG 101 with Sue Ford. Those were the best classes I have had.

What was your first job out of school?

Luis J. Martinez - Out of high school I worked painting houses and putting up wall paper.

Luis A. Martinez - Actually, working for the Office of Admissions. I can say ECC has been the start of my career so far.

Complete this sentence: “I enjoy working at ECC because … “

Luis J. Martinez - As I have said it before in public forums, to my students, and anybody that would listen, ECC is the best community college in the country, period. From any angle that you look at it, ECC is the best community college in the U.S.A.

Luis A. Martinez - It is a wonderful place to be. People are very welcoming, and they're always willing to lend you a helping hand. It is nice to have that sense of community at the workplace. 

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