Special Senior Spotlight: Alexia Martin

In honor of Black History Month, this week we are spotlighting the gorgeous and intelligent Alexia Martin. Alexia is graduating this May ("God-willing", says Alexia) with a major in Spanish Education K-12 and a minor in Women's Studies.  


Q: You're a transfer student correct? If so, can you talk about when and why you transffered, and how St. Kate’s has been for you?

Alexia: Yes, I am! I transferred from Saint Paul College in the Spring of 2016 after I finished up my cosmetology degree the prior semester. While in high school I did PSEO and took not only transferable college credits, but I also was able to get started on a possible career. Due to the length of the cosmetology program, I had to stay one semester after graduating high school to finish up. I believe in having multiple sources of income, and education, and that can get you far in life. With this, I did not want to limit my possibilities with just one degree and decided to get my second here at St. Kate’s. I knew St. Kate’s would be a much different college environment when I heard in my TRW (The Reflective Women) class a student say, “colored people,” instead of, “people of color,” as if we are not in the 21st century. However, it is students like that that make me go even harder for equity and empowerment of marginalized groups.


Q: What got you into Spanish Education?

Alexia: I actually came into Saint Kate’s majoring in Physical therapy. After failing my first science class here at Saint Kate’s, I knew that field wasn’t meant for me, as the courses would only get harder and I would struggle even more. While trying to hurry up and find a new major, I read a tweet that asked, “When did you have your first Black teacher?” Yes, I changed my major based on a tweet #ThePowerofSocialMedia. I hadn’t had my first Black teacher until 10th grade in high school. Of course, it was in a class I didn’t care about, and the teacher didn’t do a good job of building connections with a group of awkward high schoolers. From that point, I went back to my true passion: the youth. I’ve always been around youth, participated in summer programs that empower youth of color, and even grew up with a daycare in my home that was run by my mom. I just knew how much I looked up to the teachers, faculty, and staff that often times were Black or brown. However, in my K-12 (and even now college) educational experience, I rarely saw teachers, faculty, and staff that reflected me or the population they were serving. Ultimately, I wanted to be the change that I wanted to see by becoming a Black educator. I wanted for students that may be marginalized be able to create a more trusting and organic relationship with a teacher that looked like them sooner than the 10th grade. Also, my parents placed me in a Spanish immersion Pre-K and elementary which is where I initially learned the language and was introduced to the vast Latinx cultures. I then continued to take Spanish classes in traditional schools, and now I’m happy to say that I’m majoring in it.


Q: If you could go back to a moment, that you now regret about school, what would it be and why?

Alexia: I wouldn’t call my initial major a decision that I regret because everything happens for a reason. And it ultimately brought me back to my truth and path of empowering youth. Not gonna lie, I kind of chose my first major, physical therapy, blindly. "Hey, physical therapists make good money," and that’s what I had my eye on. Who wants to be overworked and underpaid like educators, right?? However, I learned quickly that I had to choose where my passion was because I know for me that money wouldn’t make me happy in a field I wasn’t passionate about. I like to think of life like a GPS. You have a goal or destination, but if you make a wrong turn or take the incorrect exit, that doesn’t mean stop your journey. That just means “rerouting,” or that there is another way, or an extra step, to get to your goal/destination. Most times life does not play out exactly how you want and have had some sort of “rerouting," or some sort of “wrong turn” or obstacle that you were not prepared for.  That obstacle in your life is just that! It’s up to you to let that obstacle stop your goal or let it be a lesson.


Q: As a senior, what’s one lesson that you go back to every year?

Alexia: One lesson that I go back to every year is to ask for help even when you are unsure if you need it. Ask that question of clarification, ask for that letter of recommendation, or ask for them to repeat what they said because that shows that you’re paying attention. It builds a trusting relationship with you and professors, staff, faculty, etc. and those lasting relationships/connections may get you where you want to be in life. The answers to your questions will always be unclear, or even no if you never at least try and ask. Lastly, the connections and relationships you build with people are so important because sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know.


Q: Do you have a plan as to what will come after graduation? 

Alexia: Many of the post-grad opportunities I’m applying for are gap-year opportunities. I know that I don’t want to get tied down to teaching right away because once you’re in that field, you are IN. I want to travel and see the world outside of my Minnesota bubble. I also want to continue to build connections and meaningful relationships and then bring it back to my (future) students. Ultimately, one of my main goals in life is to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline that criminalizes Black and brown and/other marginalized groups at alarming rates. I think that me being a Black educator is just one of the ways that I can contribute to dismantling such a system that encourages the criminalization of students rather than the upliftment and empowerment of students into becoming all that they can be. And you never know, I may be working in politics changing Education policy and creating change on an even larger scale than just a classroom. Ultimately though, no change is too big or too small.


Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

Coming into Saint Kate’s and hearing a fellow student using such outdated and derogatory term like, “colored people,” made me quickly realize that not everyone comes with your mindset, knowledge, and experience. People be ignorant, and it’s up to choose your battles. That day, I courageously corrected her language, and that just goes to show how much power is in a voice. I do know that this student is not a reflection of the entire St. Kate’s community because I’ve met some pretty bad-a** people that are already changing the world. The friends, some faculty & staff, that I have either gotten to know or just passed by are so inspirational in empowering and uplifting students. I plan to do the same and push it forward for the next generation.

Catch Alexia student teaching young humans in her last semester of her undergraduate career! And we are sure you're going to make it through the graduation line Alexia--congratulations!

*We are accepting nominations of students/faculty/staff that inspire you, empower you, and/or have made a positive influence in your life for different spotlights: special senior spotlight, student spotlight, special staff spotlight, and student organization spotlight*