BCC Student Honored with 29 Who Shine Award
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Community College student Martha Escobar has been honored with this year's 29 Who Shine Award for her work with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and with the immigrant community.
Escobar recently graduated from BCC with an associate degree in psychology and will go on to study social work at Elms College in Chicopee. On top of her studies, she works at the Elizabeth Freeman Center as a bilingual counselor and hosts a weekly show called "Mundo Latino" on Pittsfield Community Radio.
She founded the show 14 years ago as a resource for fellow immigrants.
As a survivor of domestic violence, she was described as being deeply motivated to provide support to those who are struggling to escape violence in their own lives.
"She has a really amazing combination. She has this fierce determination, creativity and intelligence, and a heart that's full of compassion. Her love for her community, her desire to help others is so apparent in everything she does and her other skills vastly increase her impact," assistant professor of psychology Melody Fisher said at a recognition for Escobar on Tuesday.
"Ever since I met Martha, she has been driven to be a force for good in her community. Throughout her life here in the Berkshires, she has been interpreting, she has been advocating, organizing events, facilitating community forums, and producing radio programs."
The award was launched by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education in 2011 to recognize 29 outstanding student graduates from the commonwealth's higher education system that show exceptional promise as future leaders and intend to pursue a career that is a demonstrated need.
Fisher and psychology professor Wayne Klug nominated Escobar for the award.
Escobar said this award is not just for herself: It is also for her daughter, Deisy, who joins her on the radio show, and for the immigrant population.
She hopes to inspire others to continue their education without language being a barrier.
"I love to help people, I love to keep them informed because it's not easy to come to this country without any family when we don't speak the language," she said.
"And we face a lot of depression, isolation, so I want to welcome them and keep them informed that there are a lot of resources for them."
In 1999, Escobar emigrated to the United States from Bogota, Colombia. She enrolled in the college's free Adult English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program and even went on to explore American Sign Language.
Fisher highlighted that Escobar taught herself English and taught herself to broadcast. She also went beyond the requirements of her program at BCC.
"Not only did Martha complete all the requirements for her degree at BCC and the psychology concentration, but her curiosity also led her to explore other courses, American Sign Language, women's world literature that weren't even required by her program," she added.
"Because she's that kind of person who wants to know and wants to connect."
President Ellen Kennedy pointed out that "Mundo Latino" was recently featured on CBS and said the college is proud to be able to call Escobar one of their own.
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