GOOD NEWS: Honors student credits success to endurance, perseverance

Special to the Odessa American

By Rebecca Bell

MC executive director, Institutional Advancement

MIDLAND “‘Keep going and never give up. I can do anything I envision as long as I simply try.’ That’s what my grandmother, or ‘Nanny’ as I called her, told me,” William Blaine Martin said.

One of his favorite quotes is from the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune.”

At the young age of 18, Martin has certainly had his share of those impediments, starting at the beginning of his life when he spent the first three months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit because of a premature birth. His parents divorced when he was 3 years old, and for several years, he and his younger brother Reagan lived with their mother in Big Spring and Coahoma.  Because of persistent issues relating to their mother’s mental health, the boys moved to Midland to live with their father and stepmother. Blaine finished elementary school at Fannin Elementary School and then attended Goddard Junior High School.

On May 7, Blaine will graduate from Midland College with an associate degree, and on May 14, he will graduate from high school. For the past four years, he has been attending Early College High School at Midland College (ECHS@MC), where he has excelled at both an accelerated high school curriculum and his college courses. At the high school level, he is National Honor Society president, Student Council vice president and the founder and president of the LGBT Club. Following the trend of excelling, Martin was selected as a National College Match finalist through QuestBridge. This past March 11, he received word that he had been accepted to Trinity University in San Antonio and was awarded a $100,000 academic scholarship by the university.

“Trinity was my first choice,” Martin explained. “I want to major in Political Science and International Relations, and Trinity is renowned for its programs in the state. Of course, it’s an expensive school, and I wasn’t sure if Trinity would even be a possibility. My father lost his job in April 2020 and just got another job this past March. Thankfully, the scholarship will help immensely.”

The scholarship didn’t come without a lot of hard work and perseverance. Martin said that most evenings he studied and did homework until 3 a.m. and then got to school before 8 a.m. He did this throughout high school, while also enduring criticism from those closest to him when he announced that he was gay in 2018, suffering extreme heartbreak from his mother’s death in 2019 and losing his beloved “Nanny” when she passed away in February 2020 from unknown causes.

“Even though my mother suffered from mental health issues, she was my best friend,” Martin said. “My mom dedicated her life to ensuring that my brother and I were happy and felt loved. Like my mom, I’ve always tried to be a caring and loving person who always has a smile on my face. My mother and grandmother instilled in me a love of gardening and painting, and they taught me to always be generous and kind. When she was capable of working, my mother was a great nurse.

“My grandmother, who was always proud of her Native American ancestry, said that we are descended from Native American medicine men, and we should act as healers in the world. She always told me that if you can’t help heal someone, whether emotionally or physically, then you have no purpose in life. I guess that’s why my eventual goal is to go to law school and advocate for the LGBTQ community, indigenous individuals and those suffering from mental health issues. Providing a voice for the voiceless is my ultimate goal, whatever form that may take.”

Just as his grandmother advised, Martin has kept going. This past year he served as president of the Midland College Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (the first ECHS@MC student to ever serve as president) and received a Distinguished Officer recognition from the Phi Theta Kappa, Texas Region. In March, the University of Texas System and Texas Association of Community Colleges honored Martin as a member of the 2021 All-Texas Academic Team. In addition, Martin has consistently made the President’s and Dean’s list at Midland College.

Traces of his love of academia can be found in his childhood, as well.

“When I was a child I loved to read, and still do,” Martin said. “I found books to be a great escape, where happy people lead happy lives. I think I read every book in the library at Coahoma Elementary School!

“I’ve also really enjoyed my Midland College literature classes. Stacy Egan [Midland College English Professor] has inspired me to expand my horizons in literature. Much like when I was a child, writing and reading are still therapeutic and intellectually invigorating. Some of my favorite authors are Amanda Gorman, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Emily Dickinson, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Blake, Robert Frost, Truman Capote and Friedrich Nietzsche. Reading their works has prompted me to write a few poems and short stories of my own that center around topics such as self-discovery, love and coping with immeasurable grief.”

Martin continues to be grateful for the support his family, specifically his father Greg, stepmother Amy, grandfather Larry Fryar, aunt and uncle Neanda & Kerry Fryar and uncle Dan Hudgins have given him.

“All of the work I have done, I have completed on my own,” he said. “There is power in being independent. However, I have found that it is always good to reach out to those who surround me. They have helped me fight the everyday battles.

“My experience at ECHS@MC, especially in my Midland College courses, has been nothing short of exceptional. I refer to the Midland College campus as my home. I’m usually on campus from 8 in the morning until 9 at night studying in the library and working part-time in the Language Hub. I’ve met people from all walks of life and different cultures. This small environment has offered the stories of many who make the world a better place. My goal is to join them in this endeavor.”