Empowering students to change the world
A triple major and human rights advocate with several internships and a study abroad experience under her belt, Natalia Rios Martinez is the epitome of student engagement. But if it weren’t for her mother’s nudge and donor support, this senior from Puerto Rico may have never discovered the Iowa State experience.
“I had my heart set on Georgetown. But at a college fair, my mom encouraged me to apply to Iowa State,” says Natalia. “I got a great offer that included donor-supported scholarships. I accepted, came to campus, and I’ve never regretted it.”
Forever True, For Iowa State, the university’s historic campaign, raised more than $747 million for student support. The aim was twofold: to ensure access to an outstanding education for more students and enable them to engage in an exceptional Iowa State experience.
“I’ve had some incredible opportunities – study abroad and internships – that wouldn’t have been possible without donors,” Natalia says.
Having always been interested in politics and advocacy, Natalia has been honing these skills through on- and off-campus experiences. She’s interned with the Iowa House of Representatives and the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, and currently works as a civil rights intern at the Iowa Department of Transportation. She also mentors her peers in the Puerto Rican Student Organization.
And last summer Natalia headed to the heart of the nation’s government, Washington, D.C., as an intern for the U.S. Department of Justice and with a D.C. nonprofit. She helped equip communities to prevent and resolve conflict, and she advocated for more diverse and inclusive communities.
She says the hands-on experience and networking were invaluable and the cultural experience unforgettable – including walking around Georgetown.
And while she hopes to study or live there someday, for now she’s happy to be back at Iowa State.
“I never thought I would move to Iowa to pursue my degree, but it ended up being one of the best decisions of my life,” she says.