Loyola University Chicago

Weekend of Excellence

Christopher Martinez

A former Fulbright Scholar who grew up in Chile, Christopher Martinez came to Loyola to get his PhD. “I was attracted to Loyola by its focus on students and their research,” he says. “And of course, reading a book along the shores of Lake Michigan is pretty nice too.”

Christopher Martinez

Doctoral candidate: PhD in Political Science
Expected graduation: 2015 •  Hometown: Penco, Chile

As a native of Chile, Christopher Martinez has a keen interest in South American politics. And as a former Fulbright Scholar, he’s keenly aware of the importance of helping others.

That’s why he hopes to one day become a professor—but also work outside academia to improve democratic institutions and promote political participation among regular citizens.

Here, he talks about his research, the volunteer work he’s done on two continents, and how Lake Michigan is the perfect backdrop for studying.

What’s your favorite Loyola memory?

When I received the Schmitt Dissertation Fellowship in 2014. After I read the award letter, I did my happy dance while my wife stared at me without understanding what had just happened. It was such great news and a tremendous honor. The fellowship allowed me to focus exclusively on my dissertation and to graduate on time.

Talk a little about a professor or mentor who inspired you.

Professor Peter Sanchez, no doubt. Over the years we’ve developed a very fluid and constructive working relationship. I sincerely appreciate his guidance, help, and insights throughout my dissertation work. I’ll certainly use his mentorship style with my future students.

Tell us about your research: what it is, how you got involved, and what you hope to accomplish with it.

I seek to explain why some Latin American presidents are forced to leave office before completing their terms. I was struck by the widespread social turmoil amid which these “failed presidents” have stepped down. I hope my research shows paths for strengthening democratic institutions to reduce the intensity and occurrence of these political crises.

How has your involvement in student organizations or service work helped shape you as a person?
I volunteered at the emergency food distribution program in Chicago and at a community center in Chile. I had the chance to reach out people with different backgrounds from mine, people who fight very hard every day to get ahead. That spirit is worth imitating, and it has inspired my as a person and scholar.

What do you think differentiates Loyola from other universities?

I was attracted to Loyola by its focus on students and their research. Professors closely collaborate with us, which is key for our academic success. I was also very interested in all the opportunities that Loyola offers to foster research, which I took advantage of. And of course, reading a book along the shores of Lake Michigan is pretty nice too.

And finally, what do you hope to be doing 10 years from now?

As a former Fulbright Scholar and current Schmitt Fellow, I have a commitment to use my knowledge and experience to help others. That’s why in 10 years I'd like to be in academia but also remain linked to the “real” world. I’d love to design policies that improve democratic institutions and promote political participation among regular citizens.