“For the past year, the world stopped moving as the future became out of focus. Everything was scary. Before quarantine, I was always told to reach for the stars as I completed each semester with the growing hope of living my dream. I jumped every hurdle and dodged every pothole on the road to where I wanted to be at CofC. COVID was different. I couldn’t control this. How was I to reach the stars when I had to stay 6 feet away from them? How could I get the most out of my senior year when WIFI was the most important connection in my life? How could I relate to the public when there was no more public to relate to? I vowed to myself, as I sat in my room looking out of the window of what could have been, that I would reach those stars.
Through a computer screen, I grew relationships with my classmates. We bonded over the death of Mr. Fish (I wonder if that fish knew his death would bring us close together), boring panelists (sorry, Tom), and growing hopes of meeting at Chili’s for mediocre appetizers and happy hour. We had snapchat groups and GroupMe venting sessions and, at long last, we finally got to meet in person at the end of the semester. Our in-person bonds were just as strong as I had hoped and, although we were cheated out of a spring break trip, in person site visits, and multiple happy hours, we did the best we could with what we were given. I hope this is just the start of many lifelong friendships.
Through a computer screen, I also grew a relationship with my mentors. Carrie Kurlander, my mentor from my junior year experience in the Mentor-Protégé program, remained a constant throughout my junior and senior year. Through many anxiety-ridden phone calls she assured me of something that I now wholeheartedly believe: What’s meant to be will be. She read resume draft upon resume draft and urged me to seek out my first internship with the Joe Cunningham campaign. Tara Stewart was also my mentor and, although she was tagged in late in the year, her impact on me was still extraordinary. We hit it off instantly and, with a “tough love” mentality, she helped me through interviews, job applications, and options for post-graduation as I rambled on like the anxious college student that I was and, honestly, still am.
I connected with professors like Dr. Beth Goodier and Dr. Robert Westerfelhaus, who made every scary step during my senior year easier. Times were tough for all of us and with the support of the faculty here in the department, I was able to get the support, guidance, and feedback I needed to prepare for my future.
My family always believed in me, even at my lowest points. They still think I am better at this whole thing than I actually am, but I’ll let them keep thinking that. The support my parents have given me has, by far, been the thing I have been most blessed to have. I love you and I would be nowhere without you.
Now, on to Tom Martin. As I tried to soak up every last lesson and networking opportunity possible, Tom Martin was always in my corner. He was more than a teacher. He was more than a mentor. The genuine care he has for each one of us always went beyond my expectation. The thing about Tom Martin is: he doesn’t HAVE to do this. He doesn’t have to read our less than appealing papers on makeup brand influencers and K-pop. He doesn’t have to respond to every panicked email at 11 o’clock at night about job interviews the next day (wait, was that just me? oops) He doesn’t have to connect us to people who will help fit together the pieces of our future. He didn’t have to cook us burgers in his backyard and buy that god awful vegan cheese just so we had a chance to laugh together in person. He did it because he cares and I want him to know that his effort never went unnoticed.
The friendships I made in the Martin Scholars program were my foundation. Tom Martin helped me build the structure of my future. My mentors gave me advice on my endeavors. Every teacher I had along the way walked with me as I approached my goals. My family not only gave me the resources to succeed, but sat on the sidelines and cheered for me with every brick that I cemented. I am grateful for every single person involved in my journey.
Today, I come out of my senior year not only proud of myself, but confident in my future. This course gave me the ability to turn my strengths and weaknesses into hope. The Martin Scholars program became the star that I finally reached. Am I still scared? YES. But now I’m scared while on the back of a star. It’s time for me to venture out on my own with the ability I have acquired to tackle any star in the galaxy. I’m excited to see which one I reach for next.”
Martin Scholar, Class of 2021
HSS Communication Scholar