RCC Announces Vanguard Award Recipient: Lena Martinez Breaks Gender Stereotypes and Pursues Dreams

Since 1993, the Vanguard Award has been given to outstanding students who are enrolled in Tech Prep and other Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs that are not traditional for their gender. Rockland Community College is pleased to announce the winner of this year’s Vanguard Award: Lena Martinez. Martinez is one of only eight students across New York State to receive this honor.

“I’m pursuing my passion and doing things people told me not to. I’ve wanted to pursue Auto Technology my entire life. I grew up watching my uncles working on cars all the time. I wanted to join in but it wasn’t something girls did. I didn’t think that it would be a career I could ever attain. Now, not only am I doing that, but I’m excelling. It reminds me that I can do anything I put my mind to,” said Martinez.

Luckily, her mother had faith that she could do anything she set her mind on and encouraged her daughter to pursue her dreams. In her junior year at Newburgh Free Academy High School, she enrolled in their Automotive program. After graduation, she decided to attend RCC and major in Automotive Technology. This May, Martinez will walk across the stage at Commencement and receive her degree. She has already landed a position with Subaru.

“To me, the Vanguard Award represents breaking down stereotypes and allowing me to pursue my passions. The job at Subaru is a dream come true,” Lena says. “I couldn’t have done it without the support of all my professors at the Automotive Center, especially Professor Hanaburg and William Terry for their support in helping me reach my goals.”