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Discovering a love for science

“There’s more out there.”

This was an important discovery for Wendy Hernandez Martinez. And this is what she tells anyone who asks why she decided to join Rainier Scholars.



“In 20 years, I want be working for NASA – as an astronomer.”

Wendy Hernandez Martinez, Cohort XV, Mercer International Middle School

It all started when she was little. Her parents watched as Wendy tried to carry out chemical experiments with Kool Aid. Then she learned to read in Spanish by first grade. “I was always trying to figure things out, and my parents just knew I needed something more,” she explained, adding that her mother never went to college, yet both her parents wanted her to get a college education.

It was clear that Rainier Scholars would require hard work, a real commitment. But there were unexpected benefits too, such as a rich community to ensure her success.  “I couldn’t believe how supportive everyone is. There is always someone there to help you – advisors, teachers, peers,” she explained.

Wendy’s whole family is also behind her. “My aunt is really proud of me. My mom now stays up late while I get my homework done. Dad always pushes me too. Even my brother encourages me.”

Through Rainier Scholars, Wendy discovered her passion for science. “I’m working on memorizing the periodic table of elements and over break, I got up to number 22 – titanium,” she said. “Mercury is my favorite element. I’m also learning about how mercury affects the nervous system.”

In her history class, Wendy also gained greater insights. “I learned more about assimilation, segregation and racism. Before Rainier Scholars, I thought it was wrong that people thought that stereotypes are true. I would be frustrated. But now I understand it can be hard for some people to stop believing in stereotypes because they grew up that way.”

Now, when people ask this precocious 12-year old about her future, Wendy is clear. “I have a lot of ideas. I want to get into a private school because this will give me an opportunity to get into a really good college. In 20 years, I want be working for NASA – as an astronomer. We think the Earth is everything  – and I want to discover if there’s more out there.”

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