Lucy Martinez is a third-year mathematics graduate student and an NSF Graduate Research Fellow at Rutgers University. She completed her undergraduate degree in mathematics at Stockton University in New Jersey with a minor in Computer Science. Lucy is the daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, Juan Carlos Martinez Ramos and Lucila Ixcoy de Leon. As a first-generation student, Lucy did not have the guidance to navigate the hidden curriculum that most of her peers knew about. When it was time to consider post-graduation plans, Lucy's academic counselor told her to apply to community college. However, her ESL teacher advised her to apply to four-year colleges. She decided to only apply to Stockton University. When she got accepted, she learned about the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) program designated for low-income, underprivileged students. Lucy became an EOF scholar and spent the summer taking two classes to jump-start her college career. While completing required mathematics courses, Lucy met two professors who later became her mentors and encouraged her to major in mathematics. Throughout her time at Stockton University, Lucy participated in different teaching and research programs with a goal of highlighting the importance of ethnic diversity in mathematics. One of her first and most meaningful experiences in this endeavor was returning to work for EOF. After she graduated from Stockton University, Lucy participated in the EDGE program, where she expanded her network of female mathematicians from different backgrounds and built mentoring relationships.
Lucy is interested in the areas of combinatorics and experimental mathematics. As an undergraduate student, her first experience in combinatorics research was through MSRI-UP in 2019. At MSRI, Lucy learned about what it means to be a mathematician by profession, which was a new world for her. She began to see herself as a mathematician and how she could enter into the broader professional culture in mathematics, where she could represent her heritage proudly and contribute to the field.
“In Guatemala, we do not celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Even though I do not have a personal connection with the month, I am always happy to see the heritage and achievements of Hispanic people celebrated. I believe we should recognize and honor Hispanics whenever we can. Representation of Hispanics is important in mathematics so that future Hispanic students can overcome stereotypes and become full participants in the field while maintaining their identities as strengths, rather than as barriers.”