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ULV alumna to volunteer in Uganda

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Arturo Gomez Molina
Assistant Editor

The Office of Civic and Community Engagement and the Peace Corps Prep Program celebrated alumna Mariela Martinez with a send-off party Oct. 26 before her departure to Uganda Thursday, where she will live for two years.

The Peace Corps sends volunteers around the world to help with housing, education and resources in communities abroad.

“We are really excited to see Mariela go out and what great things she will do in Uganda in these next two years,” assistant director of community engagement Julissa Espinoza said. “I believe she is the first one from La Verne’s Peace Corps prep program to actually go into the Peace Corps, so we’re all rooting for her.”

Martinez graduated last spring with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

She was also an Associate Students of University of La Verne Senator, vice president of the Secular Student Alliance and Model United Nations and member of College Democrats all four years at ULV, holding positions including president and secretary.

A vanilla cake with heavy white frosting and colorful flowers was decorated with the logo of the Peace Corps, a leopard, the national flag of Uganda and a sign that read “Bon Voyage, Mariela!” served as the centerpiece for pictures with Martinez.

Friends and former classmates stopped by to give her a hug and wish her the best in her travels.

“She’s smart, bright and intelligent and I really hope to follow her in her tracks some day,” CAPA student Gerald Badet said.

“She is loved by so many on campus, including President (Devorah) Lieberman, and has taken advantage of so many opportunities that have been presented to her. She is well aware of what she wants to do with her future and there is no doubt in my mind that she will succeed in all she does,” he said.

Badet said he has interacted with Martinez in previous classes and events around campus, and that she is leaving behind a great legacy.

Martinez took pictures with friends, Lieberman and by herself with her cake.

“Muerdelo, muerdelo!” Martinez’ friends shouted, which means “bite it” in Spanish.

It is a tradition in Hispanic culture to bite the cake celebrating a major event, but the one biting the cake usually gets pushed in by a friend nearby.

Martinez took some time after pictures to personally thank everyone for attending and giving her words of good fortune.

“I am excited and nervous, but I look forward to the work I will be doing in Uganda,” Martinez said. “It is going to be a great experience, I’ll take with me for the rest of my life.”

Martinez said the prep program really prepared her for this new endeavor and recommends it to anyone who is interested in joining the Peace Corps.

The Peace Corps Prep Program highlights the core values of the Peace Corps and gets students ready with training in the work sector, foreign language skills and professional and leadership training.

Arturo Gomez Molina can be contacted at arturo.gomezmolina@laverne.edu.

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