Jacob Martinez, Monica Martinez, Jeremy Neuner and Mark Davidson top the list of creative innovators in Santa Cruz Next’s annual awards gala
With a motto like “inform, inspire and involve,” it’s hard not to appreciate the efforts Santa Cruz Next has been making locally to not only unite innovative minds, but also to foster a networking environment that allows those minds to possibly work together to create powerful changes in our local government and culture. It’s fitting then that Santa Cruz Next begins the new year with an awards gala that illuminates the work of four locals doing just that.
Ask Jacob Martinez why he wanted to be an integral part of Watsonville Technologia-Educacion-Comunidad (TEC) Program, and you can hear his deep commitment to give back to the community in his reply.
“Latinos have the lowest rates of pursuing technology majors in careers, and Latinas, specifically, are the lowest,” he says. “I was a Latino studies major at UC Santa Cruz, and switched to science. And when I made that switch, I noticed that there were not many people like me in the sciences. So when I graduated, I had this interest of trying to increase minority representation in the sciences. And with that, engineering and tech was even less. That got my interest in this part of work.”
“When I started it, I understood the importance of it, but I wasn’t sure if the school district and the community did,” he says. “But they’ve shown me that it’s a big value; that there’s a high value of technology and education. Now we are serving 15 different schools, way above and beyond what we saw in our grant. And now the school district is pumping in resources to make this expansion happen.