Our Founder

Maria Isabel Barajas-Martinez | 10/26/90 - 06/24/12

Maria Isabel was born on October 26th 1990, into a migrant worker family & learned from a young age about the struggle of farm workers, minorities, & the lower class.

 

As pre-teen, she first took action along with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in the Fair Food Campaign to raise awareness about farm worker exploitation against tomato workers on behalf of growers.

 

 

She graduated with high honors from Lake Region High in 09, where she was also the president of the National Spanish Honor Society. She pursued her education at Polk State College to become a pediatrician. While attending PSC, she joined Students Working for Equal Rights. She also was a member of Justice For Our Neighbors out of Lakeland. 

On October 11th, 2013, Congressman Alan Grayson from FL District 9, of the 113th U.S. Congress, entered into U.S. Congressional Record, 40 Hispanic community leaders, political pioneers, renowned artists, & historical figures. Among this list were:

Juan Ponce de Leon who is credited with discovering Florida, Elena Ochoa - first Hispanic female astronaut, Sonia Sotomayor - first Hispanic Supreme Justice, Rita Moreno, Jose Feliciano and Maria Isabel Barajas-Martinez - Founder of The Young American Dreamers.

With this honor, a brief biography of her is now recorded in our great nation's Library of Congress.

This makes her a historically documented figure of The United States of America.

Maria Isabel played for the Miss Auburndale Softball League since t-ball and hoped to one day coach a team of her own. This is her in 2005.

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One of Maria Isabel's favorite photos: With her cousin Miguel Angel at her graduation party in May of 2009. He too was only 21 when he passed away a few months later that year.

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Heather Ryder (her best friend) & Enrique Martinez (her husband) with Maria Isabel in Sanford, FL for a march demanding justice for Trayvon Martin on March 31st, 2012.

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Maria Isabel played for the Miss Auburndale Softball League since t-ball and hoped to one day coach a team of her own. This is her in 2005.

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She was a volunteer at Angels Care in Eloise & at Lakeland Regional Medical Center. She was a mentor at Snively Elementary & tutored others in reading. She was an avid activist in the Pro-Life, DREAM Act, & Immigration Reform movements. She participated weekly at the Knee-A-Thon Pilgrimage (which later became the Forward With Your Promise Caravan) from Sebring, FL to Washington D.C. in the spirit of putting faith into practice as a true Christian. She was a member of the Youth Choir & Youth Group at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Mission in Wahneta. 

 

During the anti-immigration law crisis of 2010, she finalized the founding of The Young American Dreamers that May. She & her friends worked from her home & at times from The Farmworker Ministry (El Centro Campesino) in Auburndale. It was in the "March For America" in Washington, D.C. that she met & befriended fellow activist Enrique Martinez. How they shared the same interests & goals, they soon fell in love & were married on November 12th, 2011. She proudly helped him with religious events as well seeing that he was also a member of the Knights of Columbus.

On June 21st of 2012, Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney was scheduled to speak at a resort for a fundraiser in Disney World. Due to his refusal to voice his stance on President Obama’s executive order known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Maria Isabel & fellow Young American Dreamers went to ask for a straight answer about his position on D.A.C.A.

 

Upon arrival at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Y.A.D. members were detained by Disney Security & questioned for almost 2 hours. Officers from Orange County Sheriff’s Office advised Disney Security that Y.A.D. members were not doing anything wrong and had to be released. Disney Security did release them, but before being released they were banned from all Disney properties.

On June 24th 2012, Maria Isabel, her husband Enrique, & Y.A.D. Vice President Heather Ryder were returning from a meeting where they reported & discussed the Disney/Romney event. Tragically, on their way home, they were involved in a weather related car accident where Maria Isabel lost her life. Ironically, the accident happened at the half way point of a one mile stretch of road that she had adopted several months earlier thru Y.A.D.

Maria Isabel was laid to rest on June 28th, 2012 at Glen Abbey Memorial Gardens in her home town of Auburndale. 

 

Visitors are welcomed & can even find a guestbook to sign in.

May her soul rest in peace, her works be remembered, & her legacy live on.

On January 25th, 2013, Enrique Morones & Sara Gurling from the humanitarian organization "Border Angels", flew in from San Diego, California to make Maria Isabel an honorary member. This posthumous event was held at Polk State College's Lakeland campus where there were over 250 people in attendance to witness this great honor & tribute.

To learn more about The Border Angels:

www.BorderAngels.org