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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

ADHD & self-doubt are no match for Construction Management grad

February 5, 2015
Online Construction Management graduate Victor Martinez
Victor graduated with a 3.76 GPA, and wore an Honors Sash to his graduation ceremony. He later presented his Honors Sash to his mom, Elena.

It was not until Victor Martinez’s two children were diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) that it occurred to him that perhaps a lot of his own academic struggles and difficulty focusing could be traced to this genetic marker.

“I barely graduated high school with a C-average,” says Victor, who also spent six years in and out of community college, unable to lock his attention.

After doctors had him try a couple of ADHD medications, Victor landed on something that turned his life around. “It was basically night and day,” says Victor. “Back in the ’80s, if I’d had this medication, there’s no knowing how much further I would have taken my education.”

Instead, Victor spent most of his adult life working his way up in the construction business. He had done well for himself and was now a Construction Superintendent for a large company where he oversees construction jobs and ensures that all work is done safely, to the client’s satisfaction and according to approved specifications.

But, he wanted to be on the front end of all that action. “I knew that without a degree, it would be years before I could get a management position,” Victor says. “Experience, alone, is a much slower climb.”

Victor enrolled in the Online Construction Management (CM) program after attending a niece’s SJVC graduation and coming away impressed. He liked that he could complete the CM program online and still maintain his work schedule and responsibilities to wife Aura, and kids Alexza (21) and Ivan (19).

It looked good on paper, but the reality of his daily routine was daunting. “It’s one of the toughest things I’ve done and takes a lot of discipline,” says Victor. “You want to say your family comes first, but when you have all these assignments due, that’s when you’re put to the test. It’s the most difficult thing I’ve done, other than Marine Corps boot camp.”

Just as threatening as the intense effort of balancing all the pieces of his world was Victor’s self-doubts. The possibility of failure loomed in his vision.

The accelerated CM program demands a lot of its students. “Honestly, I would rather it take a little longer and have a few breaks in there,” offers Victor. “It took me 3 or 4 months to realize that there are no breaks; you just hit the ground and go!”

Victor was not sure if his ADHD behavior management would hold.

“Typical ADHD is you start something and don’t finish it,” says Victor. Even after he earned a couple of A’s, he was afraid he would not be able to maintain his strong start.

“It was two courses, three courses, four courses; suddenly I’m thinking, wow, I might be able to do this,” he says. All of this time very few close to him even knew he was in college.

“I didn’t tell my mom (Elena) I went back to school until just a few weeks before I graduated,” laughs Victor. “I was still afraid I might fail. I wasn’t too concerned with the debt I was taking on, but could I finish it to make the debt worth it?”

There was not much chance of him failing. Victor maintained a 3.76 GPA, was on the Dean’s List and wore the bright Honors Sash over his gown at the graduation ceremony shared with the Ontario campus.

A grad night high point was when Victor and other Honors graduates were asked to stand for special acknowledgement. Elena could not hold back tears of pride for her son, who after the ceremony awarded her with his Honors Sash.

“I think setting an example for my kids and giving my wife and mom a sense of pride was a lot of why I got my degree,” says Victor. “But, I also wanted to prove to myself that I could do it; that was a major factor.”

Victor also knows that his newly acquired education will benefit his career. “Now I can say that not only do I have the experience, I have the degree.”

Victor does not have a lot of patience with all of the excuses people come up with to avoid going back to school in order to have a better life for themselves and their families. He knows how hard it is to make the time for that to happen.

“Don’t look for the time; make the time,” he emphasizes. “It’s so easy to say, ‘I don’t have the time;’ nobody does. If you’re dedicated and motivated; make the time.”

Victor is in a strong position to know.

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