When Megan Martens was in elementary school, her teachers meant the world to her. Coming from a broken home, she was raised by her grandmother and moved often during her formative years. Her teachers were her only constant. “They were always there when I needed them,” she said, noting that she would often spend time in their classrooms after school, helping out until her ride home arrived.
“I wish they all knew how much they changed my life,” she said. “They planted that seed in me to always try my best and to never give up. They were truly inspiring.”
Martens, 28, graduated from Daytona State College in May this year with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education degree. Her goal is to become a teacher and inspire young minds, just as she was inspired. She believes she has some valuable life lessons to pass on based upon the many obstacles she had to overcome while growing up.
She recalled that her family was mostly friends and their families, who helped her stay focused and on the right track during her teenage years. At 17, she moved into her first apartment. She supported herself by working two jobs, all the while taking honors and Advanced Placement courses during high school. “I had all the great experiences that most teenage girls have in high school,” she said. “There, I was 17, but when the bell rang, I turned into an adult with many responsibilities.”
Martens graduated from high school a year early and enrolled at Daytona State College. She took many classes and also sat out a few semesters to reflect on her life. “I did a lot of soul searching and realized my passion was to become a teacher, not just any teacher, but one who inspires like the teachers who inspired me,” she said.
The fact that tuition at Daytona State was so affordable helped Martens complete her bachelor’s degree with little student loan debt. “Financial aid was a huge help,” she noted.
Though growing up wasn’t easy, Martens said she has no regrets and, in fact, has some valuable lessons she can share with other students who might find themselves in similar circumstances.
“I would never change anything about my life growing up,” she noted. “It has truly made me become the person I am today. You always have choices to make, some good, some bad, but it’s what you do with them that matters. Even if all the odds are against you, you have to remember that your possibilities are endless.”
Today, Martens hopes to find an elementary school teaching position that emphasizes mathematics, science or reading and is eager to learn new ways of using ever-expanding technology innovations in the classroom.
She truly has found her place.
“Earning my bachelor’s degree was one of the best choices I’ve ever made,” she said. “The program felt like home. I felt like I belonged there the whole time.”