Miami University Regionals helps nontraditional student rediscover her dream

Co-written by Emma Price and Noah Wolfenbarger, Student Communications Specialists 

Liz MartinGoing back to college later in life can be daunting for some, but for Liz Martin, excitement and self-determination defined her purpose.

A Middletown native, Martin moved to California at a young age and worked her way up to Operations Manager in computer technology for 20 years in industries including biotechnology and artificial intelligence. After retiring and moving back to Middletown, Martin reignited her love for learning and was inspired by Dr. Tammie Gerke’s National Parks talks on Miami University Regionals’ Middletown campus. 

“Before I had a car, I used to ride the bus to the grocery store and the Middletown campus was on the route. One afternoon, I saw a sign for Dr. Tammie Gerke’s National Parks talks happening at the Gardner-Harvey Library, and decided to check it out,” Martin said. 

She continued to attend Gerke’s talks and also signed up for an official visit and tour of the Middletown campus in spring 2019. That experience more than met her expectations. She learned about how affordable Miami Regionals is and how easily she could come back to college and fulfill her dream of becoming a research scientist majoring in applied environmental biology and psychology.

“It poured rain that day and the campus tour was canceled, but I really wanted to see the science buildings,” said Martin. “One of the student hosts personally gave me a tour of Levey and Thesken Halls. It was small gestures throughout the day that made the difference for me.” 

Martin first found her passion for science as a young child exploring and observing insects and flowers in her own backyard. Boundless curiosity as well as a love for animals and nature initially sparked her interest in the life sciences and have been defining characteristics throughout her life. Her grandfather was a botanist for the United Nations Botanical Gardens in New York City for several decades. Visiting her grandfather once a year always included a guided, narrated family tour of the botanical gardens.

Coming back to college as a nontraditional student was never an issue or even a second thought for Martin. There were challenges to be sure, but because Miami University is so student oriented I knew I was in the right place. All of her experiences and interactions with faculty and other students have been very positive. “I am really enjoying studying the subjects that I have been passionate about my entire life,” said Martin. 

When offering advice for nontraditional students thinking about going back to school, Martin said, “Go for it. Explore your potential. Four years is not that long in a lifetime and the self-fulfillment cannot be underestimated.”

Martin will be a sophomore in the fall of 2020 and will continue with her studies focused in applied biology as well as psychology. “I’m excited to follow my passion,” expressed Martin. “There is an even richer life awaiting me after graduation. If the world doesn't surprise me, I'll surprise the world.”