Moises Martinez Cortez is a fourth-year Global Studies major who has worked as a Front Desk Assistant at UCR Library since fall quarter of his freshman year.
He grew up in the Lynwood – Downey area of Los Angles as the youngest of six children, raised by a single mother who immigrated from Nayarit, along the central west coast of rural Mexico. Cortez says, “I love her to bits.”
Though he’s the youngest in his family, Cortez is the first person in his family to attend a four-year university. “My older brother and sister went to community college for a while, but ended up dropping out,” he explained.
At first, Cortez considered attending UCLA so he could live at home, but a few things about UC Riverside helped to change his mind. “I come from a low-income background and UCR I felt had the right resources, both financial and the right kind of community, to carry on my education here,” he said.
While he felt out of place for the first quarter, he adjusted quickly, partly due to working at Tomás Rivera Library. “I’ve met a lot of people at the front desk,” he said. “I feel more connected to campus as well. I’ve made a lot of new friends with fellow student employees and also expanded my academic network.”
After getting better acquainted with many people here at UCR, Cortez added, “It’s the community that makes us stand out. There’s an environment of, ‘We want to collectively get ahead, make sure our students graduate, we want to grow.’”
He’s also grateful for the mentors he’s met here at the library. “All the staff in Circulation are super helpful, and Leslie [Settle, Access Services Desk Coordinator] is hands-down the best supervisor I’ve ever had,” he said. “She tries to help us out however she can. She always sends us emails about events on campus, and where we can get free food.”
“Moises is a selfless employee who always looks out for the interest of others,” Settle commented. “He’s willing to help where needed and never hesitates to do what is best for the team. Moises is innovative, in that he developed a communication chain for student workers.”
Cortez’s understanding and appreciation of the intersection between cultures is part of what led him to pursue a degree in Global Studies.
“It’s a major that’s becoming more and more relevant with the interconnected, global world that we live in,” he said. “A lot of political issues that are relevant here are also relevant in other parts of the world, as well. Climate change, global security, so many other things.”
Cortez studied abroad last fall as part of a human rights and cultural memory program in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Santiago, Chile. This experience gave him an outside-in perspective of the 2016 Presidential election. “It gave me an inside view of how people around the world view American politics,” he said. “The fact that they knew so much about the US really surprised me, and made me wonder why people in the US don’t know much about people in this part of the world.”
He currently divides his time between work, study, painting (primarily working with acrylics and graffiti art), and tutoring Italian, French, and Spanish for the Academic Resource Center.
“I’m kind of a nerd, to be honest. I really like learning languages,” he said. “I get a kick out of learning how to communicate with somebody else in a different way, in their language. I’m a native Spanish speaker, and I picked up French in high school. I studied Arabic and Italian here on campus. I’m currently trying to learn Portuguese because I’ll be studying abroad in Brazil in January.”
After he graduates, Cortez hopes to work for the US State Department as a Foreign Service Officer. “I’m interested in working abroad in US embassies with foreign governments, working on issues like security, immigration, development, and seeing what I can do as a representative of the US to help foster that growth and that development,” he explained.