It's that time of year when college hopefuls are anxiously awaiting acceptance letters from their top choice universities. They are dutifully checking their mail for the fatty envelopes of acceptance, dreading the skinny envelope of a possible rejection. Thanks to YFS Urban Teacher Fellows Program (UTF), Tina Martinez (pictured on the right) has no such fear.

UTF assists students who want to become future educators in underserved neighborhoods of San Diego. The program supports students while they are enrolled as Liberal Arts Majors at San Diego City College and helps them transition to San Diego State University to continue their education.

Tina Martinez joined UTF in 2013 after realizing she needed more support navigating college for the first time. The UTF program not only provided Tina with comprehensive academic planning but it also built upon classroom learning with practical application and workforce development in a professional setting. Tina attended work-readiness trainings which helped her create a well-written resume and secure a part-time job. She shares, "The program helped me stay focused on school. I learned how to prioritize and stay on top of my work."

In 2014, Tina was chosen to represent the UTF program at the California Coalition for Youth (CCY) in Sacramento. CCY advocates for public policies, programs, and services that empower and protect the rights of disconnected youth ages 12-24 throughout the state. Tina's experience with CCY inspired her to continue working with homeless youth. She will have the opportunity to do so through the UTF Summer Youth Employment at YMCA's Turning Point Transitional Living Program.

The most valuable part of the program, she says, are the lasting friendships that she's made. She credits UTF to helping her come out of her shell. I don't think I would have gone out of my way to talk to people if I did not have to participate in the icebreakers UTF team builds.

This month, as the college letters roll in, we are proud to congratulate Tina on her acceptance to San Diego State University, as well as, San Francisco State University, Cal-Poly State University, and Humboldt State University! Wherever she chooses to continue her journey, she will be a great success and a valuable educator.