“At the time, I had no motivation, no direction and I wasn’t interested in trade school,” Martinez said. “The Navy seemed like a good fit for me.”
Eight years later, Martinez is a TCC alumnus and recipient of the 2014 Thomas Moss Scholars Award that recognizes the accomplishments of students whose academic achievement and leadership have reached the highest levels.
For five years in the Navy, Martinez worked with the U.S. Marines and became a Petty Officer 2nd Class. His tours led him from Camp Lejeune, N.C., to Afghanistan and Haiti, where he was on a team providing relief for earthquake victims.
“Haiti was rough. We went to villages handing out food and water. The people were so poor and needed so much help,” Martinez said. “Many places didn’t even have clean water.”
Martinez worked as a hospital corpsman, providing medical care to those on the front lines and elsewhere. “As medics, we’re trained to provide basic care. We do suturing, blood draws, start IVs, drain abscesses and more.”
It was during his first tour that he decided to go back to school to become an emergency room physician. “I knew it was going to be a long road, but once I set that goal, I started chipping away at it,” Martinez said.
Martinez began his educational journey in 2011, studying science at TCC, while still on active duty. He excelled in all classes, but especially enjoyed the biology and anatomy & physiology classes he took at the Norfolk Campus. “The teachers are great, and the labs top notch. I enjoyed the experiments we conducted on a routine basis,” he said.
Selected by Norfolk Campus faculty as a Moss Scholar, Martinez was awarded $1,000 toward his continuing education. “Jason was a delight to have in class. He scored well on his assessments, but also worked hard to fully understand and internalize the information,” said Cameron Russell, Martinez’s biology professor. “I would love to have Jason as my doctor when he graduates from medical school, because I know he is honest, ethical and intelligent.”
Martinez transferred to Old Dominion University this summer to continue his studies. “From the start at TCC, my goal was to get the most out of every class,” he said. “I learned quickly how to manage my time and be responsible for my learning.”
Martinez is hoping to complete his bachelor’s degree in the next two years, and plans to apply to Eastern Virginia Medical School. He works overnight shifts as an intermediate care technician in the emergency department of the Veterans Administration hospital in Hampton. His days are spent in class, and in between, he juggles homework and home responsibilities. “My advice for others coming behind me is simple – have a plan and then stick with it,” he said.
“My experience in so many settings from clinical to combat to humanitarian, combined with my education, that’s what’s going to make me a good doctor,” Martinez said. “TCC was my second chance at college, and it was here that I learned, I really could ‘go anywhere.’”