Latinx Heritage Month 2022: Emely Martinez ’21, ’23 Trains to be a Transnational Crime Investigator

Latinx Heritage Month 2022: Emely Martinez ’21, ’23 Trains to be a Transnational Crime Investigator

Latinx Heritage Month 2022: Emely Martinez ’21, ’23 Trains to be a Transnational Crime Investigator

In honor of Latinx Heritage Month, John Jay—a Hispanic-Serving Institution—proudly celebrates the many ways in which our Latinx students enrich our diverse community. As part of our LHM celebration, we connected with Latinx students to learn more about their identity, experiences, and hopes for the future.

Earning a master’s degree in international crime and justice has not only deepened Emely Martinez’s ’21, ’23 justice-focused education, it’s unlocked a wealth of opportunities leading to her ultimate goal of becoming a transnational crime investigator. “While completing my master’s degree, I received my Advanced Certificate in Transnational Organized Crime Studies (ACTOCS) and had the chance to be a part of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research Global Initiative Program (UNITAR),” says Martinez. “Thanks to my master’s degree program, I was able to receive multiple UNITAR certificates on criminal justice topics I’m passionate about.”

Currently, Martinez works as an anti-money laundering associate at K2 Integrity, a financial crimes risk company. She’s also working with Professor Mangai Natarajan, Ph.D., studying domestic violence during the pandemic as a National Science Foundation (NSF) graduate research assistant. “In addition to being a good representative of the Latinx community, I aim to give back to my community and bring attention to the problems we’ve faced,” says Martinez. “I hope that when younger kids hear my name, they’ll understand where I came from, what I’ve been through, and why I keep going. I want to change people’s perceptions of women and Latinx people. I want us to move past the limiting expectations placed on us.”

“I want to change people’s perceptions of women and Latinx people. I want us to move past the limiting expectations placed on us.” —Emely Martinez ’21, ’23

What was life like growing up?
My parents met in the ’80s shortly after their migration from the Dominican Republic to the United States. My mother is from Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, and my father is from Moca, Dominican Republic. I take pride in being from “Quisqueya” (a Taíno name for the island of Hispaniola) and I cherish maintaining ties to my heritage. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, but my summers were spent traveling to see my family in the Dominican Republic. Some of my favorite childhood memories involve waking up in the morning to the sound of merengue and bachata music being played as my mother sang along with her favorite Dominican artists. The best childhood memory I have is when my grandma arrived in the United States to stay with us. I did everything with her, even going to her weekly checkups, where I served as her translator. Clearly, I wasn’t the best translator because I was a child, but the doctors and my grandma could understand me. Growing up, I was constantly surrounded by my heritage. Through my relationship with my grandma, I gained hope, strength, and a deep appreciation for my culture.

“Through my classes, I’ve studied the history of my home country and learned how we, the Latinx community, are a beautiful fusion of so many different cultures.” —Emely Martinez ’21, ’23

How has John Jay deepened your understanding of Latinx history and culture?
My professors are open to differing viewpoints and willing to teach new material. They encourage me to study what it really means to be a member of the Latinx community. Through my classes, I’ve studied the history of my home country and learned how we, the Latinx community, are a beautiful fusion of so many different cultures.

What are your biggest hopes for the future of Latinx communities?
I hope no one in our community dims their light because of negative stereotypes or bigotry. I hope communities of color continue to grow while educating others on their history, contributions, and accomplishments. We have to build connections; fight the negative portrayals of Latinx people in the media; and fully embrace our unique cultures. I also want to see more Latinx professionals enter the workforce—especially in fields where we’ve been historically underrepresented. If I continue on the path I’ve set out for myself, one day I’ll be an FBI agent and I’ll serve as an example for other minorities and women that we can transcend our differences and create a welcoming workplace for everyone.