Transferring to Hanover College her sophomore year from Ivy Tech Community College, Martha “Val” Ortega-Zepeda ’19 was looking for a small tight-knit community to continue her education. And because of Hanover, Val was able to be involved in many organizations and create long-lasting relationships with her peers and professors.

A resident of Speedway, Ind., Ortega-Zepeda is very passionate about science. Ever since she was a child, she knew she would be a scientist because she loved learning about how things worked. Through Hanover, Ortega-Zepeda was able to explore her interests and chose a biochemistry major to do just that.

“During class, I was able to learn about the chemistry of biological processes, the microorganisms that affect it, and the use of analytical instruments we use to learn more about them. I’m very lucky to have professors that encourage me to continue pursuing my passion.”

At Hanover, Ortega-Zepeda was an active member of the Spanish Club, Latin Rhythms and Feminist Club. She served as a Spanish tutor in the Gladish Learning Center, helping students in Spanish classes practice their conversational skills. During her “rare moments of free time,” she liked to spend time with friends and enjoy the many activities Hanover has to offer, like spending her spring term afternoons in her hammock enjoying the beautiful days.

Ortega-Zepeda also was the co-founder and president of the Latino Student Union (LSU). New to Hanover this year, LSU was established to bring the Latino community at the College together, as well as Latino members of the surrounding communities of Madison and Hanover.

She is very enthusiastic about the things she has been able to accomplish during her time at Hanover, from the clubs she was involved with to academics.

Val Ortega, Hanover College, Professors, Community
“I am most proud of being able to obtain a great education. As a low-income student, getting a bachelor’s degree was almost near-impossible. However, thanks to Hanover, I will become the first person in my family to earn a degree.”

Now that she has graduated, Ortega-Zepeda looks back fondly, knowing that she was able to learn valuable lessons that will follow her throughout life and connect with a community that inspires her.

“One of the great things about Hanover is that you can find mentors anywhere you look. In fact, there are way too many to list: from my favorite science professors to staff members, such as Uschi Appelt and Melba Rodriguez.”

In the long term, Ortega-Zepeda plans to go to graduate school and obtain her doctorate in a chemistry-related field. Currently, she is looking to dive into the chemistry field and see which career path is the best for her.


Text by Ashley Kress, Office of Communications and Marketing