Stories of Excellence–Zalia Martorana

Zalia Martorana has a desire to growing her mind and her abilities. Even though her journey towards her future career has not always been smooth, she is determined and passionate. As a Mitchell Student Ambassador, she is continuing boldly down her educational path and gaining invaluable experience.


Martorana originally planned on going to 3-year college in Dakar, Senegal but financial concerns hindered her goal. While the west African nation of Senegal may seem like an unusual choice, the college offered a unique atmosphere that matched Martorana’s career plan. Courses are taught in both French and English and the connection with east Asia nations offered the potential to jumpstart a future in linguistics.


After struggling for three years to complete the enrollment process at another community college, Martorana decided to come to Mitchell. She completed the admissions process in about a month and noted how very different her experience at Mitchell has been. “My very first day at Mitchell, I walked in at 7 a.m., and every single person I talked to had a smile on their face,” she said. “That’s just an environment I want to be in. I want to be around people that love me and take care of me.” Martorana shared how dedicated to student success the faculty and staff at Mitchell are. “I’ve never had a faculty or staff member say no they won’t help me,” she said. “They will always make time for me. Every single one of them.”


Mitchell continued to challenge Martorana’s expectations as she began classes. “I thought I knew what to expect, but I really didn’t,” she said. Experiencing different viewpoints and learning from others has always been a priority for Martorana. At her local community college, she has found the varying ages and backgrounds of students provide a unique, rich learning environment. No matter a student’s age, Martorana has gained insight from the different perspectives.  “Hearing from the 16-year-old students is just as nice as hearing from the 40-year-old students. Even the 16-year-olds have a different viewpoint than I did at that age,” she added. “I can’t help but admire them.” While a different experience than living in another country, the diversity Martorana has experienced at Mitchell has made an impact on her life.


With a motivation to expand her skill set, Martorana joined the Student Ambassador program in Fall 2018. As a budding entrepreneur, learning and refining leadership skills will provide a solid foundation for her future endeavors. “The Ambassador program is going to help me learn how to be a leader, how to talk to people, how to get to know them, how to make sure I’m listening to them, and how to represent an organization,” Martorana said. She embraces “being the brand” at Mitchell and is excited to share her experience with others to encourage and inspire them.


After her anticipated graduation with an Associate in Arts in May 2019, Martorana plans to continue her studies in Canada in order to be more immersed in a French-speaking culture. She aims to become a dialect coach and speech modification tutor for Neutral American English language, teaching natives and people from foreign countries to speak with a neutral accent. While the private sector offers many opportunities with the growth of overseas business, a position in government is also a possibility for Martorana. Regardless of where her career takes her, Mitchell has made a lasting impact on Martorana. “I don’t think I’ll ever forget this place,” she shared, “I adore Mitchell.”


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