Alex Martinez was acquainted with the University’s brick paths and historic halls long before becoming a student. Raised in the city of Montevallo and graduating from Montevallo High School, he spent plenty of time on campus due to the relationship between the University and Shelby County Schools.
“I took my AP exam here,” Martinez said. “I did an ACT prep class here at one point. I’d come over and do the Halloween tour. I kind of grew up on this campus.”
Test preparation has certainly paid off for Martinez. He scored 174, in a range between 120 and 180, on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) in his second attempt. He took the test again for a third time and achieved a perfect 180 score.
His familiarity with the school and his interest in the then-new computer science program drew Martinez, but he would soon discover that he was interested in a different course of study: political science.
“[Computer science] was a great program, it just wasn’t my thing,” he said. “I’d started watching political content on YouTube. It was a while before I made the decision to change my major, but I’m glad I did. I found that it was something where I didn’t mind doing the homework. It was something that I did as a hobby, and now I’m doing it for class.”
Martinez, who is double majoring in political science and sociology with a minor in pre-law, completed an internship earlier this year with the Alabama State Senate through the Alabama Law Institute. He found out about the opportunity through Dr. Scott Turner, professor of political science.
“All of my opportunities that I’ve had have been because I heard about it from a professor or advisor,” Martinez said. “I’m surrounded by people who want to see me succeed and want to help me along.”
Martinez and several other students throughout Alabama got hands-on experience in state government. Working under Sen. Arthur Orr, his day-to-day duties at the state capitol included committee work, interacting with lawyers that draft legislation, providing constituent services, conducting policy research, giving tours of the capitol and more. He was even there until 2 a.m. one night helping with a budget passing.
“There’s a lot of stuff that I learned in class, but there’s nothing really like being there – seeing the theories in action,” he said. “It’s like, ‘oh, I remember that from class’ or ‘that’s completely different from how I thought it would look in real life.’”
On campus, Martinez is the director of external affairs for the Student Government Association, where his main role is coordinating with the Higher Education Partnership of Alabama and overseeing the University’s participation in Higher Education Day. He also works as a student assistant in the President’s Office, where his duties include email correspondence, bookkeeping and hospitality, and is a member of the Outdoor Adventure Club.
Martinez is set to graduate in May 2024 and plans to attend law school immediately after – he has already been accepted to the University of Georgia, and is waiting to hear back from other schools he has applied to. In his time on campus, Martinez credits his momentum with an overwhelming amount of support from the University community.
“I don’t know if I would’ve been able to get that somewhere else,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed being able to actually have genuine human connections with people here.”