BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Nancy Martinez, founder of the New York Career Training School LLC, has had an inclination toward giving and another toward educating her entire life.
In 1970, during the transition from President Joaquin Balaguer to President Antonio Guzman Fernandez in the Dominican Republic, 7-year-old Martinez moved to Puerto Rico with her Marine father and her mother.
Since her family knew they would eventually move to the United States, they lived in Carolina, Puerto Rico, which was then the only city with a bilingual school.
After having lived in Puerto Rico for several months, Martinez and her family moved to the United States on the grounds of political asylum.
Growing up, Martinez’s family wanted to ensure that she was more successful than they were, but also instilled in her the principle that if she was capable of taking care of herself, then she could do the same for other people who could not.
“If I can make you a better person, that makes me a better person,” said Martinez.
It was her compassion for others that helped her through a difficult time in her life after her brother got into an accident that left him a paraplegic.
Her brother’s handicap motivated Martinez to pursue a career in healthcare. She spent more than a decade in the healthcare industry, learning about regulations, designing patient care standards and figuring out how to run a business.
Shortly thereafter, Martinez opened her school—which is currently based in the Rockaways and offers courses in English, Spanish and Mandarin—to assist the borough’s immigrant population. The training school currently has a graduation rate of over 98 percent.
Following the recent death of her brother, Martinez established “Tocando Corazones” (Touching Hearts), which is a nonprofit international foundation designed to help children in need by providing wheelchairs and other tools in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and nearby islands.
“The poverty of children over there drives me to push harder,” said Martinez.
Martinez was motivated to achieve greatness by the responsibility of taking care of her family, which she said is typical of the immigrant-family experience.
Martinez said that when you experience firsthand what people from other countries go through, it helps you to better appreciate what you have.
“To this day, I’m facing challenges—but I work one step at a time because there’s no obstacle that can’t be overcome,” said Martinez. “Every day is a challenge, but you can’t let that stop you.”
Martinez said that her biggest challenge was being a single mother, but she wanted to leave a legacy and do what she had to do for her family. She added that she is proud of her daughter—an attorney—and her son, who is a professional model.
“It was difficult raising them on my own,” said Martinez. “But you can’t look at the difficult part. You just have to move forward.”
Martinez’s future goal is to open a school for children and a nursing home, expand her training school and continue finding ways to help people in need.
“As Hispanics, we have to join together and accomplish more because there is too great a Hispanic American population in the country for us not to be doing so,” said Martinez.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144, firstname.lastname@example.org or @reporter_ariel.