"My mother worked two jobs at different towns and the only time I really got to see her was late at night,” says the senior aerospace engineering major at the Daytona Beach Campus. "I remember always staying up late at night waiting for my mom to get home so she could read it to me. "
Simon Martinez is closer to his goal of becoming an astronaut, thanks to the Senior Eagle Scholarship. He is one of two recipients of the Senior Eagle Scholarship for seniors graduating in May 2015.
"I understand that with big goals comes big sacrifice and with the help of this scholarship I will be able to continue on to my final semester to earn my degree, " he says.
Each semester, the Senior Eagle Scholarship Fund, created by students to help their peers in need, provides at least one graduating senior with a minimum $500 scholarship. Five scholarships have been awarded so far.
I understand that with big goals comes big sacrifice and with the help of this scholarship I will be able to continue on to my final semester to earn my degree.”
Growing up in a small town in Texas with his single mom, Martinez struggled financially but kept focused on his dreams. He worked hard in school and was awarded several scholarships to help finance his education.
"Once I figured out I wanted to go to Embry-Riddle, I had to figure out somehow to come up with money on my own, because I knew my family wasn't financially strong enough to cover the tuition," he says.
As a student, Martinez scrimped on expenses by borrowing textbooks and kept food costs to a minimum. He earned extra money by working at restaurants, selling his car and applying for research and grading positions on campus.
"For roughly the past two years, as it got harder and harder to come up with funds for tuition, I began eating nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and free food that I could find on campus," Martinez says. "Each semester I came very close to not being able to come up with enough money to stay in school."
When his stepfather was diagnosed with cancer in 2013, his family's finances became even more strained. Martinez, a first-generation college student, joined Air Force ROTC his junior year and completed an internship at NASA.
"This scholarship has solidified the idea that I made the right decision to come to Embry-Riddle because I am surrounded by such a motivating and caring environment that focuses on helping make people's dreams like mine a reality," he says.
Melanie Stawicki Azam
Development & Alumni Relations