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Friends establish scholarship in honor of nurse, USF grad who died of COVID-19

Posted at 4:22 PM, Feb 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-19 18:19:38-05

TAMPA, Fla. — A group of friends has established a scholarship to honor a nurse who died last summer of COVID-19.

Miguel Martinez was a nurse in Fort Myers who loved what he did.

“It excited him getting to meet people and help them out the best way he could," said his brother Marcoantonio.

Marcoantonio is one of Miguel’s six siblings. The family lives in Plant City.

When their father died of cancer, Miguel stepped up.

“He was like our backbone. He kept all of us in line. Made sure all of us did the best we could at everything," said Marcoantonio.

But now Miguel's family is dealing with his loss.

They say Miguel died last summer of COVID-19.

He told friends he was getting better, and even planned on returning to work.

“It was a punch in the gut. He was just the kind of kid that you want in your life. I say kid, I mean young man, that had so much to offer," said Patrick Dunne with USF's College of Education.

As a way to honor the USF grad, friends are organizing a scholarship in Miguel’s name.

They hope it will benefit students like Miguel who are overcoming social and economic barriers to pursuing a nursing career.

“He had to work really hard just to get to college. He had to be a father-figure to his siblings. Work in the fields as a farmer worker just to be able to help his family financially. So he definitely had a lot more obstacles to overcome than your typical person," said friend Veronica Valencia.

“He would have loved to see somebody like him in his shoes, how he struggled to reach this educational goal that he had, and for him to be honored like that, he would have definitely loved it," said his brother.

Miguel’s father always wished for him to pursue a college education.

He achieved that goal, and now many others in the future will do the same in Miguel’s memory.

For more information on the scholarship, click here.