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Martinez describes path to UH, importance of petroleum community
New petroleum engineering graduate Mayra Martinez.
New petroleum engineering graduate Mayra Martinez.

My name is Mayra Martinez, and I was born and raised in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, where I had all kind of limitations, including on my education. I moved to Texas with my parents and my siblings in 2014. I started my education journey in 2018 at College of The Mainland, and then I transferred to the University of Houston in 2020.

Being a first-generation college student has been both a privilege and responsibility. I had to navigate unfamiliar territories and overcome many obstacles to pursue my education, such as lack of family guidance, financial challenges, and cultural and social differences. During my academic journey at UH, I had the opportunity to serve as a president of two petroleum organizations (PiET and AADE).

Despite the many obstacles I faced, I remained determined and resilient, I always received support from mentors, academic advisors, and peers who helped me to navigate the college experience and achieve my academic and career goals.

What is something you learned in your Petroleum Engineering classes that has really stuck with you?

During my journey as a petroleum engineering student, I learned the importance of professionalism, work ethic, the standards of engineering work and time management. Regarding technical learning, one crucial thing I learned besides the importance of understanding reservoir properties is the significance of wellbore stability. Ensuring the stability of the wellbore is essential to prevent issues such as wellbore collapse, formation damage and lost circulation.

You’ve been very active with student groups in your time at UH. What went into that decision?

My decision to engage with AADE UH (American Association of Drilling Engineers at the University of Houston) was driven by my passion for drilling engineering and my desire to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the industry. Being very active with AADE UH provides me with valuable opportunities to network with industry professionals, participate in technical training, and gain hands-on experience throughout the different field trips we were able to do. This involvement not only helped me to expand my understanding of drilling engineering but also allowed me to develop technical skills and build a strong professional network.

What were some of the struggles you encountered while pursuing your degree? How did you overcome them?

Coming to the United States 10 years ago with no knowledge of English and a limited educational background presented significant challenges as I pursued my petroleum engineering degree. Initially, I faced language barriers that made it difficult to understand lectures, communicate with professors, and collaborate with classmates. Additionally, my lack of high-school education meant I had to work extra hard to catch up on foundational math and science concepts essential for engineering studies.

Despite these obstacles, I was determined to succeed and committed myself to intensive language learning, academic support programs, and self-study to bridge my educational gaps. I sought out tutors, participated in study groups, and utilized online resources to enhance my understanding and mastery of complex engineering principles. Through perseverance, resilience, and a strong work ethic, I was able to overcome these challenges and excel in my petroleum engineering program, demonstrating that with dedication and determination, anything is possible.

If you could advise the new petroleum engineering generations at UH, what would you say?

If I can advise the younger generations, I would suggest they embrace every opportunity to learn, grow, and connect with others in the petroleum engineering community. Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, take on leadership roles, and contribute to programs like AADE, SPE or PiET, that support and uplift your peers. Your involvement and dedication will not only enrich your educational experience but also empower you to make a positive impact on others and leave a legacy in the petroleum engineering department.

You've taken a creative path through education, and it's given you a lot of perspective and diverse experience. Now that graduation has wrapped up, where do you go from here?

After graduation, I am excited to announce that I will be joining ExxonMobil team, where I am expecting to have the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills I have acquired during my petroleum engineering studies. I am excited to learn from experienced professionals, to develop my own professionalism under their mentorship. I am sure this opportunity will help me to expand my knowledge and deepen my understanding of the industry and advance in my career aspirations.

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