Perseverance, compassion and resilience. These are the traits that we will honor at Homecoming 2018 in this year’s Outstanding Alumnae Awardees: Chamelli Jhappan '79, professional achievement; Natalie (Harris) Martinez ’79, service to community; and Zaira Cedano ’14, rising star.
A heart of compassion
Given the chance to make a difference, Natalie (Harris) Martinez ’79 shows up. At work, she tends to children and their families. Then, in the poorest parts of the poorest countries, she carries on her shoulders not only the weight of others’ needs, but also a hopeful faith.
She calls it a heart on fire for missions.
Martinez, a registered nurse and pediatric nurse practitioner at Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group in San Diego, is being honored as an Outstanding Alumna for service to the community.
Since 2000, she and her husband Al have volunteered with the nonprofit Project Compassion, a nondenominational Christian group that provides medical, dental and vision care to the poor.
On her first mission, she helped 250 people a day in Oaxaca, Mexico.
“I was nervous treating diagnoses I wasn’t familiar with like parasites, tropical skin problems and adult disorders, but we had a good mentor who was a local doctor and we made it through,” she says. “We had brought a small bag of toys for the children and miraculously those toys lasted all four days of the clinic with hundreds of children seen!”
She and her husband have since traveled to different parts of Mexico, Panama, Romania, Ecuador and Honduras. This summer, she served in Uganda.
The couple also volunteers with groups that build homes for and feed the needy. They serve in their church health ministry, sponsor a nursing student in Haiti and fund the education of two teenage girls in Uganda through Alliance for Africa.
Her philanthropy stems from always striving for excellence, something she learned at the Mount.
“I was privileged to be part of the first year of the Women’s Leadership program, which really helped me become a leader,” she says. “Success for me is doing the best job that God has called me to do every day.”