Photo of Doris wearing graduation stole in UC Berkeley library with bookshelves behind her and blue wave on side with white text for Voices of Making Waves
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The Journey to a Debt-Free Degree and Business Career

by Doris Martinez

Making Waves Education Foundation » Career Development and Success » The Journey to a Debt-Free Degree and Business Career

Voices of Making Waves: Meet Doris Martinez 

The following is a speech by Doris Martinez at the Ripples of Impact event in November 2023. 

My name is Doris Martinez. I was part of Making Waves Education Foundation’s college and career success program, and I graduated from UC Berkeley earlier this year.  

I have always worked hard for my education. And I know that I’ve been so fortunate to have a community of people who believed in me and supported me so I can be where I am today – including folks in this room! 

Doris speaking at podium with room of people looking towards her
Doris speaking at the first Ripples of Impact event.

My path to college  

I grew up in San Rafael in the Bay Area. I was raised by a single mother who immigrated to the United States from Mexico. I didn’t get much guidance about college from my high school. About half my school benefitted from free and reduced lunch, including me. The other half came from a wealthy neighborhood and came from college-educated parents, so I saw the wealth and opportunity gap every day.  

I got good grades in high school because I enjoyed learning and cared about my grades. But I didn’t know anything about college. None of my family went to college. I didn’t know what it would take, how to apply, or how I could afford it. 

I realized I needed someone to guide me. I got into a college prep program for first-generation students. With their help and support, I applied to UC Berkeley. I didn’t think I’d get in, but when I did, I was so happy!  

Then I had to figure out how to pay for college.

Discovering the Making Waves scholarship 

I applied for the Making Waves college and career success program because it was different from any other program. It offered a life-changing scholarship but also access to a coach and other resources.  

As a first-generation college student, I was really interested in having a coach who would be with me for all four years of college.  

I remember my family and I erupting in cheers and celebration when I found out I got into the program.  

It was amazing because this scholarship would allow me to graduate from college debt-free. 

Three women posing for photo together smiling
Doris (center) with fellow UC Berkeley Wave-Maker Jacqueline Salguera (right) and Making Waves college coach, Ashley Allston (left).

The impact of a dedicated college coach 

Before I started college at UC Berkeley, I met my Making Waves coach, Ms. Felicia Tripp.  

She was the person who helped me process everything I was experiencing for the first time and my new daily life and environment, including how to make smarter decisions about my time and how to achieve both my academic and personal goals.  

For example, one of my big dreams was to study abroad. No one I knew had studied abroad, and I didn’t know how to do it. But Ms. Tripp helped me see that it was possible… I spent a whole semester in Milan, Italy! 

Embracing career opportunities outside my comfort zone 

Doris holding grad cap wearing grad attire in front of UC Berkeley building

During my junior year in college, I pursued internship opportunities to prepare for life after graduation. 

I was accepted to the Launch internship program at Ernst & Young. This experience gave me exposure to different areas of business, including audit, tax, and consulting.  

While I was proud and excited, I felt a little uncomfortable at first. I was used to community-based organizations, and I was in a corporate environment for the first time. Sometimes I was the only woman or the only person of color in meetings.  

I remember calling my Making Waves coach that summer to tell her how it was going. She reminded me that a year ago, I had asked for an experience to grow and take me out of my comfort zone. And that’s exactly what this internship was!  

It was challenging, but such a good learning experience. Now, I’m so proud to be starting at Ernst & Young this January as a Business Consultant! 

Lessons learned on my college and career journey 

I know I’m here because of the hard work I’ve put in over the years, and I’m grateful for the community that has supported me to dream big, focus on learning, and pursue a career I’m passionate about. 

Thank you for listening to my story, and for being part of the Making Waves community. 

This Voices of Making Waves storytelling series spotlights the voices and journeys of the students and alumni in our Making Waves Education Foundation and Making Waves Academy communities.


At Making Waves, we are committed to educational equity. Making Waves Education Foundation is a Bay Area nonprofit that supports Making Waves Academy – a public charter school with more than 1,100 5th through 12th grade students – and leads college and career programming with more than 430 college students.​

Knowing the opportunities that come with a college degree, we partner with historically underrepresented and underserved students to help make college affordable and graduation attainable. Centering the journeys of our students, our personalized approach includes college and career coaching, scholarships, and financial planning.​

Our alumni network includes more than 730 college graduates, who earn their degrees and land jobs at more than twice the rate of their first-generation, low-income peers, with 85% graduating debt-free.