As a teen, Nathan Martinez went through cancer treatments that basically consumed his freshman and sophomore years at Union Mine High School in the small Sierra Foothill town of El Dorado. But he said art therapy in the hospital as well as at home helped him deal with depression and he made a full recovery.
Now, almost a decade later and cancer-free, the Folsom Lake College graduate is attending California State University, Sacramento as a psychology major who wants to give back to other young cancer patients by providing them with art therapy and taking their minds off of treatments. Martinez, 24, was informed about the Associate Degree for Transfer program by a counselor at Folsom Lake College and found out that just two extra classes at the community college would give him enough units to qualify for the new degree program.
“I was going to get into statistics and computers, things like that,” Martinez said. “But that chance meeting changed everything. I’ve always been interested in psychology and the power of art therapy in helping people heal. It worked for me and now I want to apply my degrees to helping oncology patients and perhaps returning veterans suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder.”
The California Community Colleges and the California State University system have a new program that simplifies the transfer process for community college students wanting to continue their education at a CSU. Community college students who complete an associate degree designated for transfer are guaranteed admission to the CSU system with junior status and will be given priority consideration when applying to a California State University campus and to a particular program that is designated as similar to the student’s community college major.
Martinez and his younger brother, Ethan, have both graduated with AA-T degrees from Folsom Lake College. Ethan graduated in 2012 and is a senior at Sacramento State. He also is a psychology major. Transferring to a CSU was always the goal, Nathan said. But that meeting with his counselor at Folsom Lake College changed his academic career path, his life and quite possibly the lives of young people he encounters in oncology wards.
"That meeting helped set the goal and now I’m close to reaching it,” Martinez said.