Bridging Faith, Activism, and Impact

01/19/2024 Alumni Spotlight

Christina Martinez grew up in the United Methodist Church and loved being part of religious life as a student at McMurry. 

A political science major, she engaged with religious life students, learning how to openly discuss her faith with peers. She joined the Better Together Alliance her junior year, which allowed her to engage in interfaith work, broaden her perspective at conferences in different cities, and merge her passion for religious life with her interest in politics.

Simultaneously, A Moxie Movement, a women’s support group she initiated at McMurry with the help of professors Dr. Jori Sechrist ’01, Dr. Tina Bertrand, Dr Ann-Marie Esquivel ’00, and Ms. Ann Spence became a platform for addressing critical issues facing women and the greater student body and advocating for change. Through Moxie, Martinez participated in the Abilene Women’s March, helped put on a march for DACA students, and provided students with a space to talk about difficult conversations in a civil space. The experience of the marches showed Martinez that despite being a small group, there is power in ordinary people.

While not a Christian Ministry major, Martinez’s interest in Christianity courses and love for the professors who taught them led her to apply to an interfaith program at Harvard Divinity School that invited undergraduate and recent graduate students to tour Harvard Divinity School, sit in classes, and speak with current students and alumni.

Her experience in the program broadened her perspective on the intersection of politics and religion, and opened doors to her first job as a children’s director for her United Methodist Church in San Antonio where she worked closely with the pastor to create a Children’s’ Church, oversee the nursery and Sunday School, and run Vacation Bible School.

“I never saw myself in the field of Christian Ministry,” she said. “I distinctly remember telling Dr. Miller before I graduated that was not sure if I want to go into ministry but I for sure knew I never wanted to be a children’s or youth director. Never say never!” 

After two years as children’s director, Martinez was provided the opportunity to work as a case manager with undocumented children in San Antonio who were waiting to be reunited with a family member in the US.

“I loved community work and serving people and wanted to do something more in my field,” Martinez comments. “I felt like this was my dream job, and I loved every second of it.”

However, Martinez was only able to work in her dream job for a month and two weeks before Texas legislators decided to move the children outside of Texas, she was laid off. 

It took Martinez three months to find another job. In that time, she lost her apartment, her credit was hit, and she had to rely on her parents to help get her back on her feet. Despite the emotional toll and subsequent challenges, she turned to her faith and sought guidance from one of her McMurry mentors, Dr. Philip LeMasters.

Martinez recounts a Zoom call with Dr. LeMasters just two years post graduation, expressing her defeat to him. He reminded her to, above all things, take care of herself and to continue to walk, even if it’s blindly. Within two weeks of that call, Martinez received an offer to join the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County as a family engagement ambassador. After just three months on the job, she was promoted to impact manager for United Way’s Dual Generation Initiative.

As impact manager, she works to get families out of generational poverty through education (Early Childhood Education through bachelor’s programs and career readiness) and works with community non-profits and services to provide families with whatever needs they may have. She oversees 13 zip codes in San Antonio, eight non-profit partners, 30 Case Coaches, and 345 families.

Martinez finds fulfillment in collaborating with passionate community members, utilizing evidence-based strategies to advocate for change, and witnessing positive transformations within families.  She believes that being present, even in small ways, can make a significant difference. Community activism requires consistent engagement and a genuine commitment to the well-being of others.

Martinez envisions making systemic changes in her city, state, and country. Whether through politics, ministry, or non-profit work, her focus remains on advocating for justice, equity, and the well-being of ordinary people capable of extraordinary things.

Martinez’s journey exemplifies the transformative power of community engagement, resilience in the face of challenges, and the lasting impact of college experiences on shaping a meaningful career.

Do you or an alum you know have a great post-McMurry story? We’d love to feature YOU! Contact the Alumni Office at to schedule an interview.