JTHS Alumni Spotlight Creating the City of Tomorrow: Paulina Martínez, Joliet Central High School Class of 2008

Career & Education At-a-Glance

  • University of St. Francis - B.A. Hospitality & Tourism Management, 2012
  • University of Illinois at Chicago - M.A. Urban Planning & Policy, 2016

Joliet Central High School Alumna Paulina Martínez (’08) proves that dreaming big and working hard can lead to wonderful opportunities to make a positive difference as she works to create “the city of tomorrow.” Her educational journey began at Edna Keith Elementary School, Washington Jr. High, and JT Central, and she now works as the Economic Development Specialist for the City of Evanston as they pursue the vision of “creating the most livable city in America.”
Since her high school days, Martínez worked hard and dreamed big, taking advantage of the opportunities available to her by joining Drill Team, Color Guard, Rifle team, Raider team, Honor Guard, Presidents Club, French Club, Human Relations, Soccer, Astronomy Club, and NHS.

Looking back on the education that helped prepare her, Martínez expressed gratitude for having had an inspirational teacher and said, “Mr. Alberto Filipponi always taught his students the importance of continued education. His favorite thing to say was ‘knowledge is power’. He encouraged me to always be inquisitive and to hold myself accountable for nothing less than exceptional work. More than anything, Mr. Filipponi always bet on his students when no one else would; he knew what we were capable of, and always encouraged us to aim higher.”

After her positive experiences in Joliet Central High School, Martínez took the next step in her professional journey and received a B.A. in Hospitality & Tourism Management University of St. Francis in 2012 and an M.A. in Urban Planning & Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2016.

To describe her current responsibilities as the Economic Development Specialist for the City of Evanston, Martínez says, “I am responsible for creating a healthy business environment for the city I work for. My work requires me to think creatively and envision the city of tomorrow. I help administer government programs to help business owners invest in their businesses to create a clean, cool, and inclusive environment for our shopping districts.”

When asked what advice she offers for current high school students, Martínez says, “There will always be people who tell you ‘no’ or that you are ‘not good enough’. Sometimes they say it directly, sometimes it is in a subtle way. Don't let those people discourage you, because at the end of the day, those are just ways to test your character and how bad you are willing to work for your goals.

Also, be flexible. Happiness is a journey, not a destination. Sometimes our plans don't turn out the way we want, so go back to the drawing board and take advantage of the opportunities and resources available at that moment.”


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