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17 and a College Graduate?

17 and a College Graduate? photo 4/18/2017 9:25:56 a.m. - Hobbs, NM.  

[Story by Dorothy Fowler - Hobbs News Sun]

Alexandra Martinez has big plans for the future and she’s well on her way to getting them done.

She will graduate from New Mexico Junior College next month without ever having attended high school. Nevertheless, she will walk across the stage with her Hobbs High School class in May of 2018. She’s been able to accelerate her education by going directly from Highland Middle School to NMJC instead of going through the high school.

At age 17, she has earned her high school equivalency diploma, completed the requirements for an Associates degree at NMJC and been accepted at Eastern New Mexico University, where she will enter the pre-medicine program next fall. She will enter the university as a junior.

“My mom thought skipping high school would be the best thing for me,” Alexandra said. “So I started to the college when I was 14 and now I’m about to graduate.”

Mom, Maribel Martinez, said she wanted to protect Alexandra from the peer pressure she was certain to face at the high school. Maribel has a degree in law enforcement and psychology from ENMU and worked in the drug awareness program at Hobbs High School for several months.

“I got tired of hearing the kids talking foolishness and I got scared for Alexandra and decided she would be better off to just go on to college,” Maribel said.

However, because of New Mexico’s compulsory attendance laws, Maribel had to get a special status to avoid being accused of truancy when she did not attend high school. “I went to Albuquerque, to the New Mexico State School Board, and they allowed her to be ‘an active student, not in high school’ so she could go to college instead of high school,” Maribel said.

Alexandra said she has been pleased with her classes at NMJC.

“I’ve really liked the science classes at the college,” she said. “They haven’t been too easy and they haven’t been too hard. I think I’m ready to go to Eastern New Mexico University.”

Maribel said that Alexandra will be wearing the same red cap and gown that she used ten years ago when she graduated from NMJC.

“And I hope she will be able to wear the cap and gown I wore when I graduated from Eastern,” Maribel said.

Alexandra hopes to attend Texas Tech School of Medicine and then to become a surgeon.

“I think I would like to work in the emergency room at a hospital and do emergency surgery,” she said. “But I am interested in all kinds of surgery.”

“I am so proud of her,” Maribel said. “Education is so important and Alexandra is already on her way.”

Dorothy N. Fowler can be reached at 575-391-5446 or

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