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UofGH alumna named Miss Universe Canada finalist

Carmelle Martinez

I experienced most of my growth during my years as an undergraduate student at UofGH.

Those who know her now might find it hard to believe, but University of Guelph-Humber alumna Carmelle Martinez once suffered from stage fright.

When she originally arrived at UofGH, the Class of 2018 Business graduate remembers how terrified she was of speaking in front of an audience.

“I remember I had stage fright up until I had to present in front of our Marketing class in my first year,” Martinez said. “I had a lot of fears when I first started, but I got to meet so many incredibly smart and dedicated individuals, who motivated me to get out of my comfort zone and conquer those fears.

“It seemed so overwhelming in the beginning, but I found the support that I needed from different campus initiatives that helped me overcome those fears. Fast forward to my last year at UofGH, I participated in numerous case competition events, where I had to present in front of various executive members from large organizations.

“My fear of presenting would have inhibited me from receiving the awards that I got from those competitions, but UofGH supported me throughout my years as an undergraduate student, and that has helped me attain so many achievements.”

Martinez could not have dreamed then just how far she would ultimately push outside her comfort zone.

Now, Martinez – who works full-time as an Audit and Tax Reporting (ATR) Professional at Deloitte Canada’s London, Ont., office – will appear on a grander stage than she could have imagined when she competes as a finalist in the Miss Universe Canada competition in August.

Journey to the Universe

Martinez – who speaks three languages – was born in the Philippines before moving to Brampton with her family when she was 14 years old. When she began looking into post-secondary options, she felt strongly that a smaller school would be the best fit.

“UofGH’s degree and diploma feature was what initially brought me to the institution, but I became especially drawn to the University when I attended one of the open house events,” she recalled. “The students and staff were very friendly and informative to my parents and me.

“We had only been living in Canada for three years at the time, so one of the most important factors that I was looking for in a University was an environment where I could adjust culturally and grow professionally; UofGH’s close-knit community offered that and more.

“It was a life-changing experience. I experienced most of my growth during my years as an undergraduate student at UofGH.”

One of the ways Martinez accomplished that was by enthusiastically immersing herself in campus life. She was the VP of Marketing for the Guelph-Humber Accounting Council for two years, she was a DECA UofGH delegate and mentor, she was a Student Transition and Resource Team (START) Leader and a First Year Experience (FYE) Leader, she volunteered at IGNITE’s Tax Clinic, and she participated in many case competitions, including the DECA Provincials, the Achieve Case Competition, and the McKenzie Consulting Case Competition.

“Despite my last year being my busiest year, out of the four years I spent at UofGH, I managed to attain most of my highest marks that year. I realized that when you continue to surround yourself with like-minded individuals who are very driven, you uplift each other to continue doing your best.

“From my personal experience, that is what UofGH’s campus community is all about. My involvement in campus life certainly enriched my experience because of how positive and uplifting our community was.”

Martinez didn’t wait to transition into her professional life. Immediately after writing her last exam, she was working full-time as an Accounts Receivable Analyst at CDW Canada.

Her role spanned project management, dispute resolution and consulting, but Martinez was focused on attaining her CPA designation. She reached out to a friend from UofGH whom she had met through DECA and asked if there were any openings at Deloitte Canada. Months later, she was working with her former peer in the company’s London office.

“I would really like to encourage students to network with everyone,” she said.

In her current role, Martinez is responsible for supporting both the Audit and Tax teams, and her duties include financial statement production, creation of Master Service Agreements, engagement/transmittal letters, Audit results documentation, and Canadian and U.S. tax support.

“What I like about my role is that it gives me a good understanding of what our Audit and Tax teams do,” she said. “I currently have not decided which service area I would like to focus on, so it’s really great to have a role that allows me to explore both areas.”

A national stage

Martinez found her way to pageant competition through her involvement in the International Professional Entertainment Network. In 2016, she represented Canada at the Miss Progress International competition in Italy and used the opportunity to advocate for the rights of Canada’s Aboriginal women.

She enjoyed the experience, and jumped at the opportunity to participate in Miss Universe Canada, which she says is different from a lot of other pageants.

“Pageants like Miss Universe Canada 2019 provide a platform for women to make a difference, and the fact that they require their candidates to conduct humanitarian work really sets it apart from other pageants,” said Martinez, who has recently volunteered at the Walk with Heart Walkathon and Feed it Forward.

“They always remind us of the importance of community involvement, and as you can tell by how involved I was in UofGH’s campus life, this was definitely something that really made me find the desire to compete for the title.”

Of course, with a demanding full-time job, Martinez has also been thankful for the experience she gained at UofGH juggling multiple priorities and a tight schedule. She wakes early every morning to review the news – to prepare for the interview portion of the competition – and for a 5 a.m. workout.

Handling a busy schedule is not the only skill she developed at UofGH that has come in handy in the Miss Universe Canada competition.

“I am very comfortable in the spotlight and a lot of my confidence is certainly from case-competition experience,” she reflected. “I have also gotten comfortable speaking in front of crowds since my undergraduate consisted of so many presentations.”

In fact, it’s her diligent work ethic and dedication to preparation that Martinez feels will set her apart when the preliminary competition begins Aug. 15.

“Throughout the years, I have strengthened my drive to make a difference in the world,” she said. “My journey has nourished my passion to make use of platforms like Miss Universe Canada 2019 to make my mark in this world and simply show the best version of myself. It also helps that I now love performing in front of an audience.”