Ian Martin

Ian Martin

Dean's Scholar

College of Social Sciences
Social Sciences

I went through a lengthy process of switching majors five times in my first two years of college.  Ultimately, I chose Social Science, because I wish to pursue a career in teaching.

I am passionate about learning, teaching, and the process of education, and want to share this joy with others.  Social science is a broad discipline, but at its foundation, it is about understanding human beings in their interactions with each other and the environment.  I seek to understand society and the world as it is, not to accept it as fixed and inevitable, but to understand how it is that it has changed in the past and can change in the present and future...for the better

I am grateful to receive this award because it has been a long journey through higher education for me, through several community colleges, years of working at all manner of retail, restaurant, and customer service jobs, and finally studying here at San Jose State.  To be recognized for one's work is always a good feeling.  However, what this award really means to me is not just recognition of individual achievement, but collective achievement.  When I receive this award, it is not just honoring me, but people like my dad, who provided motivation and the internal drive for me to ultimately succeed in college, and those countless teachers throughout my K-12 experience and college who put in the hours and years of work that enabled me to be where I am now.  So this award for me is an award for them as well.

I listed them above.  My dad, first and foremost, always stressed the importance of education and higher education in enabling me to pursue my goals and dreams, and just generally be a more fulfilled person, while also allowing me to determine my own destiny and path.  There have been many teachers and professors over the years, and during my time here at San Jose State, but I will single out Dr.'s Alaniz, Gendzel, and Ochoa, for providing encouragement, motivation, and stories and material that sent my mind spinning, in that good kind of way that leads to ideas, creativity, and further thought.

The most important thing is to be passionate about what you are pursuing.  I suppose it is possible to force yourself through endless papers, assignments, and work without loving your area of study, but it would be very difficult and joyless.  However, if you can find that subject, that path, that stokes the fire within you, then it is that internal drive and motivation that will sustain you, that will make you turn off the TV and click out of Facebook to work on that paper, that will push you on after you get home from a shift at work and just want to sleep.  It is not about excellence for its own sake, but the pursuit of something larger than yourself.  It also helps to share your experience and your learning with other people, who will be supportive and interested.

I will be attending graduate school at Stanford University, after I graduate from SJSU this May.  There I will obtain my teaching credential and a master's in education.  My plan is to teach history in low-income high schools.  I want to work with those students who have the most obstacles in front of them, and whose potential is most often overlooked, stunted, or neglected.  I believe it is my obligation in an unequal society to work for equality, and that is what I will dedicate my life and career to.


A few words from his nominating professor:

Ian is an outstanding student.  In my twenty years at San Jose State University, he is in the top one percent of students I’ve encountered in my classes and as an academic advisor.  Aside from his academic ability, he is reflective and introspective young man.  His perspective on learning goes beyond understanding the reading and striving for a good grade.  He sees learning as a process that takes place in all realms of his life.  He is consistently looking for a deeper meaning in the actions, attitudes and behaviors of those around him.  His depth and insight is evident in his writing assignments and contributions to class discussions.

In the ten years since high school graduation, he has attended community college, University of California and California State University institutions of higher education.  He has spent several years working in blue-collar jobs and learned valuable lessons from his co-workers.  He was raised in a single parent household.  His father encouraged him to think of learning beyond the boundaries of school.  His tenacity and persistence have compelled him to continue his pursuit of the BA degree throughout his conventional journey. 
– Professor Maria Luisa Alaniz