Karina Martinez was born in Morelos, Mexico. Her family emigrated to the United States in the winter of 1997, when she was just 3 years old. Her family—similar to most who decide to take on this journey—were in search of a better life and more opportunities.
In 2013, she graduated Summa Cum Laude from Waukegan High School as a Schuler Scholar and National Honor Society Member. In the spring of 2017, she obtained a B.A. from Knox College with a double major in Political Science and Spanish. During her time at Knox, she was part of many service-oriented and culture organizations including APO (Alpha Phi Omega), MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil de Aztlán), and Lo Nuestro. In the fall of 2015, she successfully completed a community practicum at ACM Costa Rica’s Community Engagement Program. Later in the winter and spring of 2016, a semester program at American University’s School of Professional and Extended Studies.
Karina’s long-standing devotion to service and community has led her to participate in a variety of community-based organizations in and outside of Lake County. In 2013, she served as a fellow at the Father Gary Graf Center, followed by many roles as a volunteer at the Waukegan Public Library including ESL Conversational Tutor, Co-coordinator for the Little Learners Program, and Student Promotora/Ambassador. Throughout her undergraduate studies, her commitment to service only strengthened. She volunteered as a Teacher Assistant, Classroom Tutor and After School Volunteer in elementary schools throughout Galesburg, IL. During academic breaks she volunteered as an ESL Literacy Tutor and Civic Engagement Volunteer at PODER Works in the southwest side of Chicago. In 2014 she co-led her own classroom, teaching English to children at a mixed-grade school house in Santa Elena, Costa Rica. This experience was followed by an internship as the Community Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator at DC SCORES in Washington, D.C., where she served as a liaison between volunteers, community, and the organization.
In 2017, she joined the Waukegan Public Library as the Engagement and Events Coordinator, where she works with different community stakeholders to provide resources and support for underrepresented groups in and outside the library. In 2018, she was elected to serve as the Public Relations Director on the CLULC (Coalición Latinos Unidos de Lake County) board of directors. Since then, Karina has also been a part of various event committees both in her role at the library and on a volunteer basis, including Lake County’s Juneteenth Celebration, YWCA’s Love Thy Neighbor Series, and most recently, Millennials Connected Holiday Celebration.
Karina is devoted to her community and is committed to advocating for the provision of resources and support to those most vulnerable in our communities.