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News > Scholar Spotlight > Scholar Spotlight - Martin Velazquez

Scholar Spotlight - Martin Velazquez

"Being an HDF Scholar has taught me that even when all odds are against you, you can prove everyone wrong."

You completed the Early College Academy program during your last two years of high-school through an opportunity from East HS.  What was your experience being both in high-school and being a full-time college student? 

I was 16 when I started my college degree in high school. It was a great experience honestly. There were times that I felt like I was missing out on a lot of high school memories. I was submerged into the college atmosphere at such a young age it gave my way of life a 180 degree turn. I remember waking up early every morning to ride the Metro to attend my morning classes no matter the weather conditions because I didn’t have a ride. I remember staying on campus from 8AM to 10PM with barely anything in my stomach, putting in those long hours to have the grade I wanted. So, it was definitely tough no doubt about that. But I’ve always loved learning; I love putting myself in uncomfortable situations to grow as a person and learn more about myself. All in all, it was just a lot of stuff being put on my plate at such a young age. It made me become more educated, professional, and most importantly mature. It gave me the opportunity to see what I wanted to do with my life. Now, at the age of 20 I will be graduating with my Bachelors degree. 

Would you recommend fellow HDF scholars who have access to work on their Associate’s degree while in high-school go for it?

I would definitely recommend it. Being able to get those credits out the way early really pays off. You save money, time, and stress. But not only that, it gives you the opportunity from early on to be in a college setting taking college courses. It will give you a broader education that you can use to figure out what you really want to major in.

You have a remarkable record of community service and civic engagement. How do you balance work, school, student engagement activities, an internship and being so involved in your community? 

I always want to push myself and be the best person I can be. Failure is one of my biggest fears, so I try to stay busy doing things that I’m passionate about but can also serve to help others. I’m a very futuristic thinker, I always want to think ahead and see what I can do now to put myself in a better position to succeed in the future and it just became my mindset. I enjoy meeting new people and hearing their stories so volunteering and being busy is always something I look forward to.

What motivates you to be so invested in your community?

There are so many systemic obstacles in the way for low-income and minority communities that are holding us back from achieving their full potential. What motivates me is knowing that change is possible, and education is crucial if we want change. I want to pay it forward to my community, studying finance and learning the investments a low-income family can make that will create generational wealth to give their future generations the head start they weren’t able to have and create wealth within minority communities.

How did you learn about the Hispanic Development Fund scholarship, and what does it mean to you to be an HDFKC scholar? 

My sister was the one who told me about HDF and the story behind it. Being an HDF scholar gives me the opportunity to motivate students that were in my shoes and serve as a resource for them. Being an HDF Scholar shows that every single donation goes towards funding someone’s dreams. Being an HDF Scholar has taught me that even when all odds are against you, you can prove everyone wrong. Being an HDF Scholar only proves that we are the leaders of tomorrow.

How many times have you received the scholarship?

I have received the scholarship 3 times (starting in 2018-2019 to current)

What are your ultimate career goals?

Next 5-15 years:  Work in the banking/finance industry to become a renowned professional in the industry. Get in a position to make change. Work for one of the top investment banks, hedge funds, or asset management firms.

My ultimate goal: To obtain my CFA license and start a non-profit to be a financial advisor to help immigrant and low-income families become financially free to break generational curses. We see the wealth disparities between white people and minorities and it just comes down to making financially smart decisions. I want to be able to make a difference in our community by paying back everything I learned to be able to create generational wealth among our Hispanic community.

Thinking ahead: it’s 2024, where can HDF find Martin to celebrate our 40th anniversary with our community and alumni?

You can find me volunteering, getting involved in my community fighting issues of injustice. While progressing in the banking industry striving to become the best person I can be.

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