After 40 years as a successful barber in Santa Ana, California Ruebén Martinez, moved by a passion for reading and a concern for the lack of readers in the United States, founded a small business—Martinez Books and Art Gallery—out of his barbershop. Although his bookstore was very successful, Martinez was motivated by something much more meaningful than his own success: the power of books. His bookstore became a place where students and non-students could be encouraged and empowered to read and pursue higher education. It also became a nucleus for cultural community. His sphere of influence and activity has grown immensely, and continues to expand nationally. Martinez co-founded the Latino Book and Family Festival, which travels to several American cities each year, motivating Spanish-speaking people to read. He has been featured on PBS, and was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship in 2004 for his support of underserved populations.
Ruebén Martinez has been designated a Presidential Fellow of Chapman University, and resides in the Donna Ford Attallah College of Educational Studies. As a Chapman-designated spokesperson for encouraging Latinos to pursue higher education, particularly in the areas of math and science, Martinez is a wonderful ambassador for inspiring students to pursue teaching credentials in these high-demand areas.
Ruebén's unwavering spirit, vision and accomplishments center on creating opportunity for all children and adults to receive the highest quality education, breaking the cycle of poverty and illiteracy resulting in strong communities benefiting the common good of all people.