“My time at Florida State has allowed me to grow and improve as I learn to become the best leader I can be.”
- Favorite study spot: The Dirac Science Library
- If you’re hungry…: The Krishna lunch at The Globe is amazing, especially for vegetarians
- Navigating campus: FSU buses are a great form of transportation to avoid parking and/or walking
- School spirit: Enjoys attending the FSU Flying High Circus
Michelle Martinez already knew she wanted to pursue a career in health care when she enrolled at Florida State University.
As a freshman, Martinez applied to FSU’s Health Professions Learning Community (HPLC), a program that houses first-year, pre-health students and provides social and education opportunities, service-learning initiatives and on-site academic advising for students in a community environment.
The HPLC offered Martinez the smooth transition she needed to adjust to college life and succeed in behavioral neuroscience.
“After moving to Tallahassee, a new city so different and far from South Florida, the HPLC provided a home for me with like-minded individuals who shared similar interests,” she said.
Now a senior, Martinez is an executive board member of the FSU College of Medicine Undergraduate Science Students Together Reaching Instructional Diversity & Excellence, or USSTRIDE. The group includes pre-med students interested in working with rural, minority or underserved communities and offers resources such as MCAT preparation, medical training and networking opportunities.
As a minority and third-year member of USSTRIDE, Martinez provides mentorship to high school and college students from a place of experience.
In collaboration with fellow board members and USSTRIDE adviser Thesla Berne-Anderson, Martinez has established a new USSTRIDE mentoring program to increase the recruitment of students from underrepresented minorities into medical and health care programs.
“Serving on the executive board for USSTRIDE for two years connected me with students who need advice, especially those underrepresented in the pre-health field,” Martinez said.
As a learning assistant for Biological Science 1 and 2 through FSU’s Learning Assistant Program, Martinez extended her passion for mentorship by serving as a bridge between students and their professor. In addition to her Learning Assistant responsibilities, Martinez formulated a research study to assess student improvements in academic performance and self-efficacy.
“Through this study, we hope to improve the Learning Assistant Program by using teaching methods that address those who lack self-efficacy and academic performance,” she said.
For her Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) project, Martinez conducted research at the FSU Autism Institute to assist parents in identifying early signs of autism and provided information to address parental concerns regarding the risks.
As a research assistant at the Children’s Learning Clinic, Martinez evaluated children for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a chronic condition that affects millions of children and often continues into adulthood. With this data, she identified behavioral and cognitive training methods to improve the child’s symptoms.
“Through these experiences, I learned about the treatment children with disabilities receive, their participation in research and how to better assist their needs,” Martinez said.
With a semester cut short due to the pandemic, Martinez chose to intern as a medical assistant at an urgent care facility in South Florida, where she collected data on the reliability of infrared forehead thermometers as a screening method for COVID-19.
Her research was published in the Florida Undergraduate Research Journal, contributing to the limited literature available on COVID-19 at the time.
After graduation, Martinez plans to pursue a medical degree followed by a specialization in pediatric rehabilitation. She hopes to use her expertise in behavioral neuroscience to reduce the inequitable gap for children with disabilities.
“My time at Florida State has allowed me to grow and improve as I learn to become the best leader I can be,” said Martinez.
Do you plan on incorporating your teaching and mentoring experience into your future career? If so, how?
As a future physician, one of my main goals is to give back to the community. I hope to mentor pre-med students who need guidance tackling the demands of the medical profession. As a pre-med student myself, I understand how hard it can be to ask for help when it feels like no one understands the issues we face. In the future, I hope to help this community directly by empathizing with them and letting them know that although every journey is different, you can still find guidance and support from someone who has gone through the journey. I also hope to use what I learned from teaching and mentoring to improve my studying skills and better retain content in medical school.
How has your experience at the FSU Autism Institute and Children’s Learning Clinic influenced your decision to pursue pediatric rehabilitation?
My main goal was to get a better idea of what it is like to work with kids and what this field entails in the clinical setting. These opportunities provided exactly that. Being able to work with kids made my interest in this area grow stronger. Through these experiences, I learned about the treatment children with disabilities receive, their participation in research and how to better assist their needs. I am eager and excited to get more involved with this community and learn from them!
How have your projects outside the classroom complemented your behavioral neuroscience curriculum?
The great thing about my major in behavioral neuroscience is its versatility. Through the Autism Institute and the Children’s Learning Clinic, I noticed more of the neuroscience aspects involved in human behavior. My learning assistant research project with the clinic allowed me to see how knowledge affects behavior. Through my work with USSTRIDE, I witnessed how people adapt their behavior based on experience, such as failure or making mistakes. Behavioral neuroscience is a great major because applying the curriculum ranges from the neuroscience level to noticing how people interact.
In what ways has your experience at FSU allowed you to grow as a leader and refine your goals?
Being involved in different opportunities on campus, ranging from personal interests to academia, allowed me to become a leader in the pre-health student community. Although it wasn’t easy, taking this role allowed me to impact students who need someone who can advise and guide them as they tackle the pre-health field. Serving on the executive board for USSTRIDE for two years bridged the connection with students who need advice, especially those underrepresented in the pre-health field.