Becoming Mr. Martinez, The Story of a Modern Immigrant

April 9, 2011 § 4 Comments

I was so inspired after reading Gerson Martinez’s book, Becoming Mr. Martinez, that I wrote him this letter:


I just finished reading your book. I bought the digital version on Friday evening and I just finished reading it this morning. I truly could not put down by iPad.

Your life story is one of struggle and inspiration. As fellow Salvadoran, I can clearly identify with your experiences as a young immigrant in this country. I too arrived in the US at an early age, not as young as you though. I also did not experience the family struggles you did. Nonetheless, I could not but feel empathy for what you have been through and the struggles you’ve endured to get where you are now in your life.

Your life experience is indicative of the struggles that immigrants face in this country. Unfortunately, you and I are the exception in graduating from college and continuing on to a productive life. The number of Latinos who attend and graduate college in this country is dismal and alarming. We are 50 million strong, yet we are not producing Latino citizens productive to society who will give us the political and economic power needed to make Latinos a force in this country.

I salute you for you strong will and warrior spirit. Not everyone is as strong as you or lucky enough to encounter people a long the journey who take an interest in one’s success. I admire your commitment to bringing your message to underprivileged students around the nation. I think your message is an important one, and one that needs to be disseminated to motivate every Latino student to succeed. Si tu pudistes, ellos tambien pueden.

I have only briefly met you once (You probably don’t remember), but I can honestly say that you have my support in the community work you do. Do not hesitate to reach out to me. I would be more than happy to get involved and lend a helping hand in the community projects you are involved in.

Good luck with your soccer career in El Salvador.


Salvador E. Mendoza

About the book:

A journey from civil war in El Salvador, through gangs, drugs, alcohol and violence — all while dealing with an abusive and neglectful mother at home. A story about making the most of the chances we are given.

You can read more about Gerson Martinez at

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§ 4 Responses to Becoming Mr. Martinez, The Story of a Modern Immigrant

  • Tracy López says:

    Salvador, that is a great letter. (And I love that you took the time to write it to the author.)

    My husband is also a Salvadoran immigrant as you know. He didn’t go to university because he barely spoke English at the time when he should have applied. Now that his English is decent enough all these years later, he’s in the middle of raising 2 kids, with a full time labor job which is exhausting, a mortgage and everything.

    It’s sad that education costs so much because my husband would have liked to go, (he wanted to be a doctor but came to the U.S. instead.)

    They say it’s never too late so I won’t rule it out, (for either of us – because I didn’t go either.) — Right now we are making sure our kids are ready to go on to university. Our oldest is 12. He says he wants to be the first Latino President and he’d like to go to Harvard. Very ambitious!

    People like us can’t afford Harvard, but he’s a bright student and a hard worker so we encourage him and never let on that we have no idea how it will be paid for. We’ll figure it out – but my husband is determined that his kids do what he wasn’t able to.

    Now you’ve got me wanting to check out this book for myself and my husband – sounds like a good read. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

    • salmendoza says:


      Thank you very much for your kind words.

      You’re absolutely right. It’s never too late to go to college. My father entered college in his fifties and only after he had raised a family and was more settled. So, it’s really never too late if you really want it.

      You son has high aspirations. And he has every right to aspire to be the first Latino president and I believe his goal is not out of reach. Imagine, the first Latino president with Salvadoran roots. I like the sound of that. I also don’t believe Harvard is out of reach for your son based on financial reasons. I encourage you to do research on admissions for middle and low income students. These schools have instituted new initiatives to recruit a more diverse student body, giving Latino students a better chance based on their economic status. Read more about Harvard’s effort here.

      I hope you do get to read Gerson’s book. I am sure you will be inspired by his story.

  • Salvador this is an awesome letter! I’m working with Gerson to get this book to the public and it’s a book that allows us to identify with our roots. I’m currently reading it and can’t help but continue to admire my very good friend Gerson. He will be in Jersey City May 2nd to talk to the students about community. Hope you can make it…email me or call me so that i can give the details…take care and thanks for your support with “Becoming Mr. Martinez”

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