by LAUREE S. PURCELL
Twenty-six year-old El Salvador native Maria Martinez has lived in Harrisonburg for 14 years. She is a full-time human resources consultant in Farm Credit’s administration office in Staunton, Va. She completed her degree in business administration at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) in 2014 and plans to begin work on a master of business administration this fall while continuing to work full-time.
Her responsibilities at Farm Credit include setting up interviews and helping in the hiring process, attending career fairs, and handling compliance issues as she keeps up with changes in employment regulations. Farm Credit participates in Harrisonburg’s international festival each year, and Maria looks forward to helping attendants find out about career opportunities and financial help for beginning farmers. She also helps Farm Credit provide free workshops on such topics as balance sheets, economics, and the financial issues of running a dairy or beef cattle business. “We do a good job of informing our customers so they can be successful and make a profit,” said Maria.
Maria loves living in the Shenandoah Valley because of the vibrant downtowns of both Harrisonburg and Staunton, the proximity of her family and friends, and the friendly work environment she enjoys at Farm Credit. Before beginning her studies at EMU, she worked in the office of Blessed Sacrament Church in downtown Harrisonburg. An active member there, she has taught 3rd grade Sunday school, led youth programs to benefit community teens and sung in the choir. Her extensive volunteer service to the Harrisonburg community is impressive.
Maria has been volunteering as a Spanish interpreter at parent teacher conferences since she was 16. She used to do it at the elementary school level and now continues at Harrisonburg High School. She feels fortunate Farm Credit sets aside community service hours for its employees for such endeavors. She was also a big sister to a girl from Honduras through the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program and volunteered at Massanutten Regional Library.
Former home school liaison Tanya Osinkoski helped Maria make the big adjustment to Thomas Harrison Middle School when she first arrived from El Salvador and spoke no English. Former HHS English teacher Sandi Mercer advocated for Maria so she could earn a half-tuition scholarship to EMU and become a first generation college graduate. Maria is thankful for the help she received and is happy she can have a positive impact on many local people through her work in this community.
LAUREE STROUD PURCELL serves as an editorial consultant for Living. She and her husband Steve have two daughters.
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