For the last two years, Elias “Lee” Martinez has overseen the technical operations of a local TV station from the transmitter to IT. His duties are vast and intricate and according to his supervisor, “no one does it better.” But it hasn’t been easy for Martinez.
Born in Fort Hood and raised in Kingsville, Martinez moved to the Rio Grande Valley in the mid 1980s when he decided to enroll at Texas State Technical College, known then as Texas State Technical Institute. He’d spent some time at Texas A&I University in Kingsville but after meeting with a TSTC recruiter, Martinez decided to move south.
While he was in college in Kingsville, Martinez first realized he might have dyslexia. When he moved to Harlingen, he was diagnosed by a doctor in Brownsville.
Dyslexia is a learning disability manifested by difficulty in learning to read despite conventional instruction, adequate intelligence and sociocultural opportunity,” according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders.
“I was reading and writing at a third-grade level,” said Martinez, who graduated from TSTC’s engineering technology program. “I had a problem inverting letters. I had a problem writing out big words. Instead, I would use a bunch of small words to get my point across.”
Dyslexia has been a hurdle for Martinez. But it hasn’t slowed him down or stopped him from achieving goals. He’s been proving doubters wrong his whole life.
“When I was in high school, counselors told my parents that I would probably end up digging ditches or hold some other menial job,” Martinez said. “They told them that college wasn’t for me and I remember sitting in the corner of the room and thinking, ‘I’m not dumb.’ I couldn’t read or write but I knew what I was doing.”
Indeed he did. Martinez quickly found a passion in the technical world where he’s been successful everywhere he’s worked.
Although his work revolves around the technical aspect of broadcasting, as chief engineer Martinez still must write regular reports. His dyslexia still hinders him today but Martinez said he’s learned to deal with it effectively.
“I was concerned taking this job because of my condition,” Martinez admitted. “But I stopped being scared and started asking for help. If I can’t read or spell a word, I just ask for help. And I’ve learned that everyone is willing to help. I embraced what I have and I haven’t looked back.”
Martinez hopes to continue his education in the near future and pursue bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering.