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El Paso High grad exudes optimism on national talk show in aftermath of incident involving lost tests

(EL PASO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT — June 29, 2023) — El Paso High School graduate Zyenna Martinez sat down with New York City-based talk show host Tamron Hall days before graduation for a segment to discuss the incident last fall that left 300 SAT exams scattered across an El Paso thoroughfare.

The El Paso High 2022-23 student body president and future La Salle University Explorer offered the Tamron Hall Show a more personal side of how the exams that fell off a delivery truck affected her and her classmates.

“I talked to her about what happened and made it clear that it wasn’t El Paso High’s fault,” Martinez said. “I told her how students felt and how many felt it was the best score they ever had.”

Martinez caught the attention of media after a private social media post on the subject was shared widely on social media. From there, she got inquiries from local and national media outlets including the Tamron Hall Show. In November, Martinez and her mom Johanna Puga-Martinez appeared on the show via Zoom. Producers reached out to her a week before graduation to see if she and her mom would be willing to come on the show in New York City the following week to offer an update on the story.

“I was in shock. I didn’t think that would ever happen,” Martinez said. “These are big tests. For that to happen, no way. We were disappointed. Some people were crying but I was mostly in shock.”

The lost SAT exam didn’t deter Martinez, who chose to go test optional when applying to La Salle University. Test optional has become a college admission trend because of the pandemic. Her hard work and determination earned her a full-tuition scholarship and a spot on the Division I school’s swim team.

“I told them about the scholarships and the full tuition,” she said. “I saw people clapping and cheering in the audience.”

Hall congratulated and surprised her with a couple of La Salle sweatshirts, a year of access to Pearson+ for e-books worth more than $2,000 and a $1,000 dorm makeover from Dormify that includes access to their style experts.

“I can’t imagine going from that level of uncertainty,” Hall told her and her mom during the interview. “We wanted to set you up right.”