HUMANS OF THE U: RACHEL MARTINEZ

“I started college at BYU when I was 17. I didn’t know what I wanted to do so after a few years, I followed in my grandfather’s footsteps and joined the Navy. I spent three years serving.

While in the Navy, I got my associate degree. After I was discharged, I transferred to the U.

It’s terrifying not knowing what you’re coming home to and I knew the U was where I needed to be when I came into contact with Paul Morgan at the Veterans Support Center.

The Veteran Support Center has become an integral part of my life at the U. I connect with people who understand what I went through. We can relate in a way that I can’t relate with other students anymore. It’s a place I feel like I belong and it has given me the college experience I wish I would’ve had when I was 17.

I’m going to nursing school next month in Alabama. I want to do Emergency Medicine—and one day hopefully get on a helicopter and be a flight nurse.

I injured my foot while in the Navy and I still have pain in my feet, legs and back. It’s tough having a part of your body not doing what you want it to do and having to rework your life around that. I know as a nurse I’m going to be somewhat limited with what I can do with my foot. My career will be short, but I’m looking at it as this short opportunity until I can no longer physically do it. That has helped me get the best out of everything since I know it’s fleeting.

I have this sense of service toward my fellowmen. To be out in the field responding to those serving would be the ultimate dream—to help them while they’re sacrificing so much.

I’m looking forward to getting my degree and that feeling of accomplishment. I’ve basically been working toward this for eight years. I’m finally crossing the finish line and while sometimes I wish I would’ve finished faster, I’ve learned so much with the experiences I’ve gone through.”

Rachel Martinez, Class of 2018, Russian major

We’ll be featuring Humans of the U and sharing their stories throughout the year with the university community. If you know someone with a compelling story, let us know at ThisWeek@utah.edu.