By Grace Smith | Broadcast Reporter
A 21-year-old Waco native, Alicia Martinez, was a Baylor graduate student who tragically died from Coronavirus complications on Sunday, Jan 17. She was a first-generation Baylor student who was studying at the Garland School of Social Work.
Not only is Martinez the first Baylor student to die from the virus, but she is also the youngest COVID-19 death in McLennan County.
Jon E. Singletary, Dean, and Diana R. Garland, Endowed Chair of Child and Family Studies, described Martinez as resilient and full of life.
“She was always engaged, always energetic, and absolutely committed to her sense of calling and purpose,” Singletary said. “She was passionate about serving others, passionate about working for justice for underserved populations.”
Singletary said she was deeply loved and will continue to be celebrated and remembered.
The university held a virtual gathering in honor of Martinez Monday night. President Livingstone, the University Chaplain, Dr. Burt Burleson, and Counseling Center staff all offered their support by speaking during the Zoom memorial.
Luci Hoppe, BSW Program Director and Lecturer described Martinez as a “pioneer.” Hoppe said she will miss Alicia’s positive spirit.
“She had a really profound strength about her,” Hoppe said. “When I went to the Zoom memorial, it was a really beautiful thing to see over a hundred people all talk about the same consistent message about her character.”
The virus took Martinez through an up and down journey. Her mother, Amy Morales, went to Facebook where she consistently updated friends and family on Alicia’s current state.
Updates started Jan. 5— Alicia was diagnosed with pneumonia and was then put on life support. In Morales’ Facebook post, she said her “world exploded” when she got a panicked call from Alicia, “Mom! I’m scared, they are putting me on life support, Mom!” Morales went on to write “I’ll never forget those words or how scared my baby sounded.”
In the days following, there were moments of hope. But on Jan. 13, Martinez received a tracheotomy. Her family had plans to move her to Dallas for recovery. Sadly, just four days later, her father, Jeremy Morales posted a Facebook update that Alicia Martinez had passed away.
“I am so proud that Alicia, who embodied the Baylor spirit in the way she lived her life each and every day, will always be a part of our Baylor story and a part of the Baylor family,” President Linda Livingstone said.