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Teri Martin

March 2014

Challenges don’t stop freshman from achieving education

While it's not quite a rags-to-riches story … yet … the long and fascinating odyssey of Teri Martin can at least be considered rags to opportunity, an opportunity she's intent on maximizing every single day as a freshman student at Avila University.

The riches, hopefully, will come later. For now, the security of having a place to call home, even if it's a cinderblock dorm room, will do just fine and is worlds away from where she was just a few years ago.

“If I couldn't have a nice home area, I always knew I could throw myself into school,” said Martin, who's double-majoring in business, marketing and management, with a minor in public relations. “It's the one place where I can control my environment. It's my happy place.”

“I realize that I'm a unique individual and that my experiences can be a real help to others. Your situation is only as good as you make it.”

Martin's “situation” took a sudden, bleak turn when she was only 7, when her father suffered a debilitating accident at work and her mother lost her job. Just like that, she and her three siblings – two older brothers and a younger sister – found themselves bouncing around without a permanent home, sometimes staying with friends, but oftentimes living in a tent in a campground or mobile home park. It was a nomad existence that had pronounced effects on Martin.

“When I was younger, I was pretty shy and withdrawn, because I was never in one place long enough to make friends,” she said.

But, she found sanctuary at school, where she found that, if she poured her heart and soul into it, she could excel despite her circumstances in her family life. It was also at school where she became involved with Family Conservancy, a charity that helps homeless teens. And, it was where she met Rachel McIntyre, who became her best friend and eventually offered Martin a permanent home with her family her freshman year of high school.

Martin graduated high school with honors in 2013 and applied to seven colleges around the U.S. She said she was accepted by all seven, but chose Avila because of its intimate size and generous scholarship offer.

“I feel like the environment is just perfect for me here. I've felt like this is the perfect place for me. I don't regret my decision. I love it here.”

Martin completed her first semester with a 4.0 grade-point average, a great first step toward her ultimate goal of owning her own coffee shop. First, however, she'll marry her fiancé after graduation. After she opens her business, she wants to start a family.

“Marriage, business, family with kids,” she states, flatly. “I want to do it right and do it that way, because I'm real concerned about providing a stable environment for my kids.”

A stable environment – something she has today at Avila. AU

Media Contact: Bob Luder, 816.501.2434