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The Scarlet & Black

Ray Martinez

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Ray Martinez ’21 is a self-described “school-aholic” – he adores learning, and his academic passions span many disciplines, from chemistry to art to videography and more. And, like most school-aholics, he’s headed to graduate school. This fall, Martinez will pursue a PhD in chemistry, ideally with a specialization in organic chemistry, at Purdue University.

Martinez has loved learning ever since he was a child growing up in Lakeville, Minn. In looking for a college to attend, he was drawn to a place which balanced a passion for learning with a fun social environment.

“Grinnell is the perfect combination of both of those,” said Martinez.

Martinez came to Grinnell in 2017 after a multi-year fascination with physics. When Martinez attended the Grinnell Science Project (GSP) as his pre-orientation program, he focused heavily on physics, and spent much of his time making connections with the Physics Department faculty. But when he took PHY-132: General Physics II, the material didn’t interest him as much as he’d hoped.

The following semester, Martinez took CHM-129: Introductory Chemistry, quickly learning that Chemistry ignited a passion for the sciences which physics had fallen flat on. There’s something inexplainable about the way chemistry blends real-life applications to the enigmatic “learning-about-way-the-universe-works” aspect of science, said Martinez.

“I really fell in love with it,” said Martinez. “It blended my interests together really well.”

By his third-year, Martinez also realized that he’d taken so many studio art courses that declaring it as a second major just made sense to him. So begins the story of Ray Martinez: The Chemistry & Studio Art Double Major

“Grinnell has really fostered a lot of self-discovery in the ways that I’d read about. I’d always heard that people changed their majors early on. I’d read that college is where people found new interests, but you’re never really prepared for that until it happens to you. And then it does,” said Martinez. “And it was really cool when that happened.”

Throughout his time at Grinnell, Martinez spent time with many different extracurriculars. In fall of 2019, Martinez and his friend Carlton Segbefia `21 hosted a radio show titled “Electric Hour,” an electronic music hour hosted on KDIC every Sunday evening. In his sophomore year, Martinez was the videographer for several student-run short films which had been written by other students.

“I got to bond through video-making with people which was just something that I love and to be able to meet people through that was just really, really nice.”

Most recently in April 2021, Martinez won Best in Show for the Bachelor of Arts Exhibition (BAX), an award which felt incredibly validating for him as an artist, especially since his art studio major was never his original plan.

Martinez credits part of his drive for self-discovery across multiple fields to the dedication of the College’s faculty, especially his chemistry advisor, Eric Leggans, and his studio art advisor, Andrew Kaufman.

“It’s so easy to fall in love with a subject from the professors’ passion in teaching it. That’s one thing I’m definitely going to miss about Grinnell … I think of a lot of my advisors and professors as friends, or people I can approach as friends,” said Martinez.

Martinez said he’s excited to take the best parts of his Grinnell experience as his toolbox as he moves onwards to his PhD.

“I want to keep my Grinnell spirit alive … I’d like keep doing other things, keep doing art and keep doing other side projects and to keep doing what I’ve done and Grinnell and keep that diversity of experiences alive,” said Martinez. “It feels so right to go to grad school, and yet feels so wrong to only go to grad school for one specific thing.”

Martinez said he plans to reach out to faculty in the Studio Art Department at Purdue to see what types of opportunities he can take to continue with art and with videography.

“Even 10, 20 years from now, I want to be the same diverse, multi-talented person that I’ve become through Grinnell … It’s great to be multitalented, and I won’t let anyone tell me otherwise.”

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About the Contributor
Nina Baker, Staff Writer
Nina Baker is a fourth-year Russian major with a Russian, Central European and Eurasian Studies concentration from Lakeville, Minnesota. When she's not reporting for The Scarlet & Black, she loves taking long walks, reading, and learning foreign languages.
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