Lauren Martin will be honored as the student speaker at this year’s Commencement Ceremony for the College of Graduate Studies. Lauren graduated from Tarleton State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, and is certified to teach Early Childhood through 6th grade with ESL. Driven by her affinity for students below the poverty line, Lauren graduates with her master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction, concentration of Reading Specialist, in the May 2017 class.
Lauren lives in Fort Worth, Texas, with her husband Blake, two dogs, two rats, and two fish. Lauren and Blake met at a Dungeons and Dragons game. “Our shared hobby is nerdy stuff,” Lauren said. Together they enjoy video games, traveling, camping, and hiking.
Learn more about Lauren Martin’s Tarleton experience in the following conversation.
COGS: Why did you choose Tarleton to pursue your master’s degree?
LM: As a non-traditional student, I was looking for a program that fit. I had to take night classes, and the idea of belonging to a cohort really appealed to me. My cohort was such a support system: we were there for each other, we helped each other, and we supported each other. That was something that really appealed to me as a student because I needed the extra support.
I continued my education at Tarleton because of their ideals on best practice in a classroom, as well as what we need to be doing to serve our community and our students. That really struck a chord for me. I believe that as a teacher you need to be an active participant, not just in your students’ education, but in their lives. Tarleton really supports that idea in giving back to the community.
COGS: What advice would you have for someone currently going through the grad school search and admissions process?
LM: Talk with the professors at Tarleton, and listen to the heart that they have. Tarleton is passionate about education, not just within the department, but across the board. They firmly believe you need to be an educator first, and any other priority comes second. I appreciate that they put their focus on their students in the classroom over many other obligations.
Every teacher I’ve had at Tarleton has taken an interest in making sure that I am successful and that I have the tools I need to continue my education. They always have been there to talk me through things, give me advice, and point me in a new direction. They really valued me as a person, and I think that is a unique experience to Tarleton.
COGS: How do you balance school with other important obligations?
LM: Some people talk about this triangle – work, social life, grades – and you can only choose two. I feel like I live in an octagon and I can only choose two things. Of course, my kids and my classroom come first, but then you have to make the decision to make school the second most priority for you. That means I don’t get to have a social life, I don’t really get to work out like I would like, and other things because I have to be home and I have to be studying. My friends will go out and do all of these fun things, and I will sit at my kitchen table until midnight working on a paper. You just have to make that commitment to your future, and understand that what you want in life will come, but only if you put the work in now. You don’t necessarily get to live this fun life that you want because you are working for something better, not just for you, but for your family and your future. That’s a commitment you need to make to yourself.
COGS: What are your future plans?
LM: If accepted, I’ll be working on my terminal degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on Early Childhood at the University of North Texas. I want to continue researching kids in poverty and how we can serve them as educators. I am also interested in speaking to lawmakers regarding educational decisions and informing them of what really happens in the classroom. I feel like teachers are undervalued as a resource, and so often huge decisions are made by the state legislature or our government without consulting educators and people on the front lines.
It takes an act of incredible willpower to complete your graduate degree. You have to decide if this is what you really want in life and chase it with every fiber of your being. It will be incredibly difficult and you will feel like giving up, but if you run your race and do not give in to your weaker self, you will reach your goals. The best things in life are the things that you work the hardest to achieve.