Stroke gives businessman second chance in education
A self-made businessman with only a sixth-grade education, Martin Rubio rose from a dishwasher to restaurant owner after immigrating to the United States. For years he hurtled between demands of his country kitchen and steakhouse. Then his hectic course suddenly halted.
A stroke stilled his left arm and weakened his left leg.
Rather than fall into regret, Rubio chose to fill his recovery time with a springboard to new opportunities – an education.
He enrolled in College of the Mainland’s GED preparation program, free to Galveston County residents.
There he delved into the language arts, math, science and social studies lessons he had missed.
“I spent many Saturdays here at the COM library. I was first to be in class and last one to leave,” he remembered. “My instructor said if you don’t get it the first time, it’s OK to go until you get it.”
He especially remembers instructors Linda Battistoni, who teaches language arts GED classes,and Bridget Walton, who teaches college-level developmental classes.
“It seemed like I was never going to get the essay part (of the test),” he remembered. “Linda would describe it like the hamburger, bun, meat, tomatoes. Now (after Battistoni’s and Walton’s tutoring), you can give me a topic, and I can give you an essay.”
He re-enrolled in the program twice until he soared through the test with a score qualifying him for honors.
Refusing to stop there, Rubio enrolled in college classes with the goal of becoming a court interpreter. After a year at COM as a college student, he landed a job as an interpreter/translator for juveniles at the Galveston County correctional facility. He now translates classes taught in English into Spanish and then relays students’ questions back in English.
“I feel like I'm in McDonald’s. I'm loving it,” he said of his current job. “I get into the zone of interpreting. I can focus, listen and deliver the message. I pay attention to the tone of voice. If it’s sad, I deliver the message in that tone.”
Rubio views the COM GED program as the catalyst for his current vocation.
“I’m glad I did it because had I not had the GED I wouldn’t have gotten this job,” he said. “It was a great feeling for me to be able to accomplish that. It was not easy, but it paid off at the end.”