“Learn to light a candle in the darkest moments of someone’s life. Be the light that helps others see; it is what gives life its deepest significance.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

One of the greatest, most immeasurable gifts we can give is the gift of a good education. In the words of American Philosopher, Allan Bloom, “Education is the movement from darkness to light.”

In 2018, the Ari J. Arteaga Foundation, Inc. was proud to announce Bryan Martinez as the first recipient of the BE THE LIGHT® Scholarship. The circumstance of this gift is rooted in what it truly means to be the light in the midst of someone else’s darkness.

Within the darkest moments of their lives, the Martinez and Arteaga families found a way to be a light for one another.

In late 2017, the Martinez family faced the tragedy of their daughter, Melanie Martinez, slipping into a coma after an illness, where she remained for the past three years.

Then, in the summer of 2018, the Arteaga family faced the unimaginable and terrible loss of their 16 year-old son, Ari. Many people reached out to support the grieving Arteaga family, including Jeimy Martinez who had heard about the accident. Jeimy reached out to the Ari’s mother, Ysha Arteaga, through Facebook to share her condolences. When Ysha learned that Jeimy, too, was facing a crisis with her own family, she decided to carry on her son’s legacy of service to assist the Martinez family. The Arteaga Family lept at the chance to help Jeimy’s son, Bryan, who they felt deserved an opportunity of a private school education.

As a response, the Ari J. Arteaga Foundation, Inc. launched the BE THE LIGHT® Scholarship, which aims to help qualified students in underprivileged economic circumstances to achieve their academic dreams.

Bryan Martinez was the very first recipient of the BE THE LIGHT® Scholarship due to his proven commitment to his academics. The scholarship allowed him to attend Christopher Columbus High School (CCHS) where he was invited to become a Mas Scholar under the Mas Family Program, which serves as one of the most academically challenging and culturally enriching experiences in South Florida. Comparable to the International Baccalaureate Diploma, this unique program is designed for the academically gifted and highly motivated student.

Bryan said he was impressed by the sense of community he witnessed while touring the school. “When I went on the tour of Columbus and saw the school, they were big on the brotherhood and how everyone at Columbus is a family and I think Columbus has really lived up to that.”

Bryan recently finished his sophomore year at CCHS and he shared that over the past two years Columbus has become more of a home than simply a place to learn.

“I feel really connected with my teammates and my classmates and I feel like everyone in Columbus is a family… and I wouldn’t have gotten that at any other school,” said Bryan.

Bryan strives for excellence in every facet of his life, always pushing himself to achieve his goals. From an academic standpoint, Bryan’s 5.26 GPA speaks for itself.

Bryan has continued to excel in CCHS’s Mas Family Program. Some of his achievements include the Spanish Marist Achievement Award, French language fluency, the distinction of being on the Principal’s List (five times), First Honors (twice), and Second Honors.

Outside of the classroom, Bryan is just as dedicated. His involvement in many extracurricular activities including clubs, honors societies, and the Columbus Baseball Team, has enriched his growth as a well-rounded individual.

When asked how he has been able to successfully balance so many different commitments, Bryan simply responded, “It’s really about time management and being focused.”

Without a single absence since kindergarten, Bryan is an excellent example of a highly focused individual, striving to be the best version of himself. His daily schedule during the school year exemplifies his extraordinary self-discipline.

“During school days I don’t play video games or anything. I’m just focused on my school work,” said Bryan.

Bryan is awake before dawn at 5:30 AM every morning in order to leave home by 6:15 AM and make the hour-long commute from Miami Springs to CCHS. The next twelve hours of his day are spent in classes, club meetings, baseball practice, and even a post-practice workout. By the time he arrives home at 8:00 PM, it’s time to start homework, which usually takes several hours leaving him in bed by roughly midnight.

So one would think he would be sleeping in on the weekends to make up for his lack of sleep during the week. However, every Saturday by 8:00 AM he is practicing baseball with a trainer before his game later in the afternoon. On Sunday he attends church with his family and spends the rest of the afternoon doing homework.

Bryan uses every obstacle he faces as an opportunity to give more of himself and share his gratitude for all that has been given to him.

Bryan shared that his BE THE LIGHT® Scholarship motivates him, “to get good grades and do my best at Columbus with the opportunity they’ve given me.”

With the support and motivation of his family, Bryan aims to reach his highest potential at CCHS in order to expand his opportunities in college. “After getting the scholarship, I wanted it to be worth something and I wanted to show the Arteaga family that I’m really grateful for what they’ve done for me,” said Bryan.

No matter where life takes him, Bryan will continue to be a light for everyone he encounters.