November 2017 Alum Spotlight: Dany Martinez

By: College and Career Readiness Team

Welcome to The Next Step Spotlight! Every month throughout the school year we highlight a Next Step Alumni or staff to share their experiences with education (both good and bad!) and how these moments have guided them to success.

For this month’s Next Step Alum Spotlight, we interviewed Dany Martinez, who graduated from The Next Step in 2015

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Q. Where were you born?

A. Born and raised in DC

Q. How did you hear about The Next Step PCS?

A. Through my sister. She told me, “there is this school in Columbia Heights and you should look and see what they offer.” I decided to do a little more research and go see the school.

Q. What attracted you to The Next Step PCS

A. I am not sure. I just wanted to pursue getting a GED. I found out that The Next Step offered a GED program so, that is what most attracted me there.

 Q. How was your experience?

A. It was good. The teachers were super helpful. My counselor was supportive and always checking up on me. Back then, then I was like, “why is she doing that?” and now I am like “yeah.”

 Q. What was your counselors’ name?

A. Lita

Q. In what language did you pass the GED?

A. English

Q. Is English your primary language? If no, what is your primary language?

A. Spanish, since I started speaking it at home.

Q. Did you take ESL courses? If so, where and for how long did you take ESL courses?

A. No

Q. How long did it take you to pass the GED?

A. It wasn’t very long. I was still under age, I had to wait until I was 17 years old to finally take the GED. It did not take that long. Probably a year or a little over a year.

Q. What was your motivation to pass the GED?

A. I needed to have some kind of diploma under my belt. My family motivated me to pass the GED.

Q. Did you ever feel frustrated during your time at The Next Step PCS?

A. I don’t think I was ever frustrated. To be fair, it has almost been 3 years now. I guess the only thing was that they when I wanted to apply, they recommended me to go back to high school. I knew if I would have gone back to high school, it would have taken me a longer time to graduate because of my credits. I got a little frustrated around that time. I kept pushing and eventually I enrolled at The Next Step. The other frustrating thing was that I wanted to graduate quickly. I could not take the GED because of my age so I had to wait a little bit longer. I was not frustrated with the classes or anything else.

Q. Who or what helped you pass the GED?

A. The teachers. Definitely the teachers. Everything they taught in their classes were on the GED test. And again, my counselor.

Q. Did you receive any scholarships?

A. No, because I did not apply. I did receive the Next Step Scholarship, which reminds me, I have to use it!

Q. What advice would you give to current students at The Next Step PCS who are trying to obtain the GED?

A.  Just keep pushing forward and focus. I know at school, it can be a place where there are students that want to be there and some students that don’t. For a second I was caught into that second group. Whether you have fun or not, remember to focus and do your work. In the end, having a GED gets you into more places than not. 

Q. What are you doing today?

A. Currently working at The Latin American Youth Center (LAYC). ).  Also I recently found out I am joining the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Cadet Program. I started the process early this year, March to be exact. It has been a roller coaster ride for me. I had to go through many steps from background checks, interviews, investigations, etc. Today I received word that I got accepted into the program and I'm super thrilled! Throughout the program one will receive training to be a police officer and as well an opportunity to further my education. The program covers all cost in order for one to pursue an Associate's Degree. There was a time in my life that I thought that with a GED I would not be able to do much, but considering how far I have gone, one can do a lot with a GED! My start date for this program is Mid-November and I should be starting school this upcoming semester.

Q. What do you at LAYC?

I am the Health Promotions Outreach Specialist. That entails me to schedule appointments for pregnancy screenings, and STI and HIV testing. I also help other programs within the department. I help with recruitment and grants. I also am the certified CPR instructor for LAYC, so I schedule CPR classes and trainings. 

Q. What is the best part of your job or schooling?

A. The best part is helping other people. Educating people on different infections and diseases that there are in the world. Many people do not know how infections and diseases can be transmitted. Helping show people what options are available.

Q. What are your future professional goals?

A. I want to eventually go into Criminal justice to possibly be a detective or FBI agent. Which I am working on that now. I also took the BARD College Clemente Course. This is a nine-month program that exposes students to college life. Professors from the DMV area teach courses that help students get a feel for college classes. There are Art History, American History, Moral Philosophy, Literature, and Writing classes. Once the nine months are up, if you pass the courses, you receive six humanity credits. It is completely free!

Q. What is your favorite thing to do when you are not working or in school?

A. Traveling and seeing new places. Hanging out with friends and going to the gym. And did I put family? Spending time with family.

Q. Shout out’s?

Lita, definitely! She was a great counselor because she was always there for me. I appreciate her and I hope she continues doing what she is doing because it helps. Umm.. and she’s not there anymore, but Ms.Susan.

Q. What would you tell Ms. Susan?

Even with her role as principal, I did not see a disconnect between her and the students. That is really appreciated and recognized.

Dany's 2015 Graduation, pictured bottom right 

Dany's 2015 Graduation, pictured bottom right