Alexis, Raquel and Sotiria Martinez have attended the same schools since each started kindergarten.
So it’s nothing new for the sisters to see one another on campus at Frederick Community College, where all three are now students.
“It’s just like normal, it’s as if we’re back in elementary, middle or high school,” Sotiria said.
What is new to the sisters is seeing their parents on campus — where they, too, are pursuing associate degrees.
“It definitely doesn’t feel odd. It feels normal,” Alexis said of seeing her parents around campus.
Charles and Georgia Baldwin enrolled at FCC to further their career aspirations and to set an example for their daughters.
“I just wanted to show them that it’s possible, anybody can do it,” Charles said.
Charles, 40, the grounds maintenance supervisor at the National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, is set to graduate this spring with an associate degree in business management.
Georgia, 44, is in her second semester studying for a business administration degree. An administrative officer at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, she said FCC is an extension of the family home.
“We have individual goals that we’re just accomplishing together,” she said.
Sotiria, 19, is studying art education and Raquel, 18, is in her first year in the criminal justice program.
Alexis, 20, is set to graduate in 2014 from the respiratory care program now housed at the new Mount Airy College Center for Health Care Education.
Of the five family members, no two have ever taken a class together at FCC. Everyone but Raquel is now taking an online course as part of their full load of course work.
Two younger siblings, ages 7 and 5, may eventually be enrolled at FCC, according to Georgia.
The Martinez sisters, all graduates of Gov. Thomas Johnson High School, enrolled at FCC for different reasons — ranging from the desire to stay close at home to not wanting to take the SAT.
So far, they have all enjoyed the community college atmosphere.
“It’s more adult life,” Alexis said. “You have a lot more freedom than in high school.”
Even more than two decades out of high school, Charles and Georgia said the transition back into the classroom has not been as difficult as they expected.
“I think a lot of it was because I was involved with their education, so it didn’t really affect me as bad as I thought it was going to,” Georgia said.
The five family members are set to receive their associate degrees within two years, but they don’t want to stop there.
Each plans to attend a four-year college or university; options include Frostburg State, Mount St. Mary’s and Towson universities.
Georgia hopes to go even further. She has set her sights on earning a Master of Business Administration.
“In our day, you could get away with a high school diploma, but today it’s very different,” she said.
The family agreed that FCC is helping them to reach the next step in their education primarily because most of their credits transfer easily.
“It’s a great place to start,” Charles said. “It’s local, it’s close to home and it’s cost-effective.”