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Future Teacher Discovers Life Lessons Through Hardship

Chanel MartinsFive years ago, Chanel Martins was recovering from a horrific car accident that left her unable to walk; today, she’s nearly fully recovered from her injuries. She’s also a semester away from earning her teaching credential at CSU Stanislaus and was recently chosen for a newly created student liaison position in the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC).

Martins was selected from a statewide pool of candidates as the first-ever CTC Educator Preparation Student Liaison. Her job is to represent teacher credential candidates in meetings in Sacramento for a one-year term, during which the agency evaluates and sets the standards for teachers in California.

She plans to earn her credential in the spring and credits CSU Stanislaus’ pre-credential single subject matter preparation program — which she completed in her undergraduate studies — for her current success.

“I felt that I had so much experience already that I was bringing to the table, which has helped me in the credential program,” Martins reflected. “The specially designed program for English majors that I was able to take here at CSU Stanislaus helped me get to where I am now.”

CSU Stanislaus wasn’t part of Martins’ original plans. In 2008, she was attending UC Santa Cruz and came home to Turlock for the holiday break. One night, Martins and her friends drove to Turlock Lake — a route they’d taken many times. This time, they didn’t make it.

Martins’ friend, who was driving, swerved off the road to avoid an oncoming truck. Their car rolled downhill several times, and Martins was ejected. Among multiple injuries, Martins had a shattered vertebra that punctured her spinal cord and left her paralyzed from the chest down. Even after an emergency surgery, doctors said she only had a 1 percent chance of walking again.

Her parents shielded her from the bad news, sensing her determination. Day after day of physical therapy provided signs of hope — a twitch of a toe led to movement in her ankle, then her knee. After six months, Martins walked again, and she soon transferred to CSU Stanislaus to stay close to home and save money.

“It really was a miracle that I even survived, let alone started walking again and progressed to where I can live my life today with no special aid,” Martins said.

Martins is excited for her career as a teacher, as well as her term on the Commission on Teacher Credentialing. No matter the accomplishments or challenges that lie ahead, she’s confident her new outlook will keep her on track.

“To me, everything in life happens for a reason,” Martins said. “And if it’s bad, there’s going to be something that comes out of it that is positive. Had I not been in the accident, I wouldn’t have transferred to CSU Stanislaus. I wouldn’t have known about the position with the CTC, and I wouldn’t have had the qualifications for it. The way everything lines up points in one direction.”

Updated: 02/07/2014
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