People You Should Know: Jenny Martinez

By Sara Angel

October 16, 2013
Residence Hall Director Jenny Martinez may still be a new face at Dominican University, but she is no stranger to the world of residence life. Beyond her work with student housing at other schools, including Northern Illinois University and Cornell University, Martinez wants students, residents and commuters to see her as a person, not just a Residence Hall Director.

Q: How would you describe your role at DU?
A: I’m an advocate for residents. I want everyone to have the healthiest experience, whether it’s on the Main Campus or at the Priory. I want to embody the family experience and help students make connections where they want to make connections. I would like to collaborate more with the Commuter Student Association in order to be more effective. I try to do what I can and the RAs are so helpful. I hope students see me as more than just a position, but as a person too.

Q: Why did you choose to work at DU?
A: My younger brother’s best friend graduated from Dominican. During regular conversations, he talked about how the school changed his life. He had a different pride about his school than I did about my alma mater. I wanted to feel that Dominican pride and I guess I was jealous and I wanted it too! Even during my interview, I felt that sense of family that was just so genuine. Other schools fake that, but I knew this was real.

Q: How would you describe your family life?
A: I’m the third of four kids. I grew up in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago but later moved near Austin Boulevard and Grand Avenue. Growing up, my dad taught me that I was Puerto Rican by blood but that I was a U.S. citizen first. So I knew the difference between being from the island and being a descendant of it. My mom, she always pushed for education. She instilled in us a passion for learning, not just about school subjects, but about life too. My family has always had very open, honest conversations. “Todo para la familia” is our motto. I actually even brought my parents to DU Fest.

Q: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: An actress! I wanted to be the female Jim Carrey. I love comedy. I saw so much pain in my family that I saw laughter as a refuge. I do what I can to make people laugh. If you laugh, you can’t cry.

Q: What has been your favorite moment at DU so far?
A: Going to Camp Duncan with the RAs. They had a night away to be themselves. We did team-building exercises, ate s’mores, danced and [had] the opportunity to be a kid again. It balanced having a month’s worth of mandatory meetings and additional training [after camp]. Then, we had something that we all referenced during those meetings. The camp was peaceful, a time of reflection. It was beautiful and intimate.

Q: What is your message to the student body?
A: God created many things but God created only one you. Be yourself. God created a variety of things, and yet, he didn’t think the world would be complete until he created you. Embrace your authenticity. I don’t want to adapt to a type, I just want to be me. I want everyone to be able to experience their authentic self. Here in Residence Life, we don’t hire robots. We’re people, we’re about life.