Texas Tech University


JohnMichael Martinez, TTU

UNMASKING: JohnMichael Martinez

A Fascination with the Human Body
Prompts This First-Gen Athletic Trainer
To Set a New Goal: Orthopedic Surgeon

Written by Toni Salama

JohnMichael Martinez is a junior in the Department of Kinesiology & Sport Management who wants to be the first in his immediate family to graduate with a college degree—not just a degree, but one with a 4.0 GPA. And that is only the beginning of the goals this Abilene native has for himself.

Martinez hopes one day to be accepted into the medical school of his choice and embark on the long journey of becoming an orthopedic surgeon.

"Ideally, I'd like to get a fellowship in sport medicine so I can become a sport physician or surgeon for either a university or professional team," he says.

Just a short time ago, Martinez's ambitions were more modest. The former high-school athlete wanted to become an athletic trainer. In April 2017 he landed his current job as a TTU Student Athletic Trainer. In this position, he works with Texas Tech Athletics, helping the players properly stretch their muscles, monitoring practice games for potential injuries, and going through rehab programs with injured athletes.

It's a job that still allows him to be on the playing field, he says, but in a role where he is giving back by helping other athletes in their performance—a great gig, for now. But in thinking about his future, Martinez began to realize that he could aim higher.

"I always have been fascinated with the human body, the physiology of the body during exercise and how the organ systems work during exercise," he says. By taking the med-school route, he would be able to manage the healthcare of athletes in a more influential way.

A World Class Scholar

At Abilene High School, Martinez was 24th in his graduating class of 500 students, placing him in the top percentile. The list of scholarships he has won since then includes the TTU Rusty Thomas Scholarship, the TTU AT&T Scholars Scholarship, the LULAC of Abilene Scholarship, and the TTU Athletic Training Scholarship. His 4.0 GPA placed him on the President's List for fall 2017 and spring 2018.

His favorite classes here have been those in anatomy, exercise physiology and applied exercise physiology—not only as a student himself but also as a teacher's assistant. Because he earned an A in anatomy and proved his mastery of the course materials, Martinez was cleared to work as an undergraduate teacher's assistant in anatomy. He wanted to help other students do well in a course that has a reputation for being tough on freshmen. Throughout the 2018 spring semester, Martinez kept office hours for advising students, and he created a study guide to help them identify various body systems.

Martinez chose Texas Tech because of the numerous resources that the university provides for its students and for the beauty of the campus, he says.

"When I toured Texas Tech for the first time in the summer going into my senior year of high school, I knew Texas Tech was the place for me," he says. "And Lubbock, to me, feels like just a bigger Abilene."

Making Family Proud

Martinez says that, given his high-school accomplishments, his family has high expectations for his college career. He's the first in his immediate family to attend university and something of a role model for his younger brother, Robert, who has followed him to Texas Tech to pursue a pre-law education.

Sacrifices just go with the territory. Martinez's newfound focus on a medical career has meant putting some much-beloved activities on hold. An athlete himself, Martinez now has, ironically, fewer opportunities to keep his own fitness regime.

"I try to stay active, but sometimes it's hard to find time to exercise," he says. When he does get a few moments, he lifts weights. But that's not all he's missing out on.

"I used to do volunteer work for Special Olympics here in Lubbock," he says. "I gave first aid and helped out with the bowling events, which were just for fun." He also enjoyed working the Special Olympics basketball tournaments.

"Now" he says, "I'm focusing on my studies more than ever."

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