Carlos Martinez (`14) Finds Connection in Scouting and Law

Carlos Martinez
Carlos Martinez (`14) works with youths at an educational workshop.

The first time Carlos Martinez (`14) sat down to take the LSAT, in 2000, he felt nauseous. His solution was to drop that idea and head to South America for a six-month backpacking trip. During a 1998 study-abroad semester in Chile, he had volunteered as a translator for the World Scout Jamboree, and in 2000, certain a career in law wasn’t for him, returning there seemed like the logical thing to do.

Growing up in Albuquerque, Martinez had been a Boy Scout, a member of Eagle Scout Troop 280, where his father was scout master. His father, also Carlos Martinez, is an Albuquerque lawyer. During college, the younger Martinez spent his summers working at Philmont Scout Ranch in northern New Mexico, and after graduation, he returned as camp director.

Years later, after giving the law another chance, again finding it not to his liking, Martinez eventually found his place with the Scouts when he was recruited to become director of the Scoutreach Juvenile Diversion Program in central New Mexico. Interestingly, it was through this job that he could see a place for himself in the law. Last fall, he enrolled at the University of New Mexico School of Law as a flex-time student.

The Scout Scholarship Project

The UNM School of Law wishes to attract people who have challenged themselves through scouting, by visiting or working at the Philmont Scout Ranch, or who have achieved the highest ranks of scouting. The Scout Scholarship Project has been established to encourage motivated young people to consider UNM when applying to law school.

You can help us reach our goal of raising $25,000, which will be matched for a total of $50,000 for Scout scholarships. Your contribution to this endowment will impact students’ lives and the communities where they will serve. As they will be challenged to continue to uphold the scouting principles of fairness, courage, honor and respect for others in their legal pursuits, we know your investment will be a lasting one.

For more information, to help us reach Scouts who can help, or to make a gift, click here or call 505.277.1457.

Helping people who need it most
After earning a bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s College in California, Martinez joined the Peace Corps in 2001, returning to South America. This time, he spent two years in Paraguay, where he worked with an indigenous Aché community on environmental education projects.

“I joined the Peace Corps to help people who needed it most and the Boy Scouts prepared me for this,” said Martinez. After his service, he remained in South America for another year, backpacking and bicycling.

In 2004, he came home, obtained a teaching certificate and taught fourth grade at Armijo Elementary School. He moved to Stevens Point, WI, where he became district executive for the Boy Scouts and earned a master’s degree in environmental education. It was during this time he learned about and managed Scoutreach programs, which provided scouting activities and an introduction to scouting principles for low-income families.

“This was my favorite part of the job,” said Martinez, “working with people who needed the most support in the community.”

Finding a niche
After a few years, Martinez returned to Albuquerque to teach second grade at the newly opened Corrales International School. By now, he had his own son, Diego, now 4 and a second son, Milo, came along in 2009.

A year after returning home, the Boy Scouts came calling again and offered him a position to expand a pilot Scoutreach program that had been operating in Sandoval County. He built the Juvenile Diversion Program from the ground up, developing a curriculum by trial and error. Today, 120 boys and girls, ages 12-16, from Sandoval, Bernalillo and Valencia counties meet once every other week for three months, engaging in discussions and activities, all designed to build self-esteem and set achievable goals, with the ultimate goal to keep them out of the justice system. During the three-month session, the youth also spend 20 hours on community service projects.

“We bring in professionals, such as firefighters or tattoo artists, to help motivate them to be productive, to show that there is a future waiting for them,” said Martinez. “In all, we offer 12 lessons that range from anger management to how to deal with peer pressure, most of which is done in interactive sessions.” All graduates of the program receive a scholarship to attend a week of summer camp at Gorham Scout Ranch.

Through his work with Scoutreach, Martinez became familiar with the state’s juvenile justice system. “I realized that I could get a law degree and do different things with it,” he said. This time, he made it through the LSAT.

As a flex-time student, Martinez continues to run the Scoutreach program while taking 10 credit hours a semester. He likes the connection he is already seeing between scouting and law school.
“I invited a 2L student, Joseph Dworak, to talk to our kids about what it was like to be a law student and when I attend the Albuquerque Bar luncheons, I go as a law student, but talk to the lawyers there about my job with the Scouts.”

In fact, Martinez is always looking for volunteers to interact with the teens in the program. “The more positive interaction these kids get, the more chance they have to be successful,” he said.

For himself, he doesn’t know where his law degree will take him, but he does know that it will involve serving his community.

Martinez can be reached at martinez@law.unm.edu.

June 28, 2012