By Madison Payne
Martin Smith was a troubled student dating as far back as his elementary years. He was never dedicated to school and always found his amusements elsewhere. Martin was expelled three times during junior high and his troubles continued into high school.
In 2001, Martin was classified as a junior but only had eight high school credits, technically making him a freshman. He dabbled with selling drugs to students at school, eventually leading him to be expelled once again. Martin made the decision not to go back to school. From 2001-2003, he took his time off from school as an opportunity to kick back with friends and do drugs.
Tim Smith, Martin’s father, always stood by his side and never lost hope in his son and always knew that he could do anything if he tried.
“Day in and day out, I stood by him and tried to do anything that I could do to motivate him,” Mr. Smith said.
In 2001, Martin had a manic bipolar episode, but did not understand what he was experiencing.
“I thought that my episode was something that had stemmed from some really bad acid that I took,” Martin said.
In 2003, Martin had another bipolar episode and ended up beating his father, eventually provoking him to move to Tyler to live with his mother and receive help at behavioral clinics.
In 2004, Martin was hired as a janitor at UT-Tyler. He was eventually fired, but he remembers sweeping the floors of the Cowan Center and thinking about what a great honor it would be to get an award on that stage. That got him to start thinking about achieving his dreams.
Martin’s father decided to make a deal with him and told him that he would buy him a new computer if he would get his GED.
Martin took his father up on his offer and completed his GED in April 2006.
A man by the name of George Kirkwood from the Literacy Council at TJC West Campus encouraged him to aim for a higher goal and continue on to college In November 2006, Martin decided to enroll at Tyler Junior College.
“I totally bombed the math part of the Accuplacer. I was placed in remedial math 0301,” Martin Said.
Martin went into the math course and decided he was going to make it work for him.
“I really tried to drop my reservations about math and once I did, I made a 100 on the first math exam,” Martin said.
Every test that followed that first test was passed back with a grade of 100 percent on the top.
“Once he stepped foot on TJC campus, his life turned completely around,” Mr. Smith said.
Martin made an “A” in all of his math courses all the way up to his Calculus 3 class and has held a 4.0 GPA.
According to Martin, one of the main reasons for his success is his perfect attendance. He believes that if you are there every day, you will have a better chance of being successful.
“I have stood by him for 24 years, and he is just so unbelievable to me. I have always been proud of him and now the entire family is just so proud of him,” Mr. Smith said.
Martin’s ultimate goal is to graduate from UT-Tyler with a 4.0 GPA and go on to Texas Tech to receive his Masters and Ph.D.
“I want to become a full professor to teach number theory and also do consultant work for the government, I think that would be fantastic. That is my dream,” Martin said. “There will come a time when there is hope,” Martin said. “I can only put in what I can put in. It just so happens that I have been successful.”