Perseverance helps GTCC’s nursing student land academic excellence award

Published on: April 9, 2024
GTCC nursing student Joanne Martin
“To win this award is a very big deal. When I was informed I had been nominated, it was very heartwarming,” said Martin. “I work hard, do my studies and to be recognized is amazing.”

Joanne Martin says she has “persevered” to be on track to receive an associate degree in nursing from Guilford Technical Community College.

In reality, that probably doesn’t come close to describing the journey the 52-year-old New York City native has endured, not only to be successful in the classroom but also to receive one of the highest honors a GTCC student can receive.

On April 23, Martin will be awarded the North Carolina Community College System Academic Excellence Award, which is presented annually to one student in each of the 58 North Carolina community colleges. Also, one student out of the 58 winners will be recognized as the overall winner by the community college system.

Recipients must have completed at least 12 semester credit hours in an associate degree program, maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher, participated in campus activities outside the classroom, and progressed toward educational goals.

“To win this award is a very big deal," Martin said. "When I was informed I had been nominated, it was very heartwarming. I work hard, do my studies, and to be recognized is amazing.”

There is no slowing for Martin now. She eventually plans to enroll at N.C. A&T to work toward a bachelor's, and eventually a master’s in nursing with the hopes of becoming a nursing instructor.

Martin began attending GTCC in January 2018 after a long career as a medical assistant, first in New York and then in North Carolina.

“I needed a different career,” Martin said. She left her medical assistant job in 2017 when she required carpal tunnel surgery. “I wanted to stay in the medical field, but I needed to make a change."

Not long after enrolling in the radiography program at GTCC, COVID-19 struck and hit Martin’s family hard, forcing her to cut back on her studies.

“My husband had a COVID-related heart attack. He coded, and I had to do CPR on him. He spent 13 days on a ventilator,” said Martin.

Not long after, Martin’s mom was diagnosed with cancer, and her father’s health deteriorated, forcing a move for him from New York to North Carolina. Sadly, he passed away last summer.

She eventually returned to school and earned a general education degree in 2021.

“It’s been very difficult, but I know where I want to be in the end. I try to take everything in stride,” said Martin. “It’s been rough, but thank God I was able to persevere.”

But she wasn’t finished. Martin’s adult son was considering returning to GTCC last summer. Martin challenged him; if he went back and earned his degree, she would return to pursue a nursing degree. It was the perfect motivation.

Not only has Martin maintained a stellar classroom record as graduation approaches, but she has also been active outside the classroom. She’s a student government senator on the Greensboro campus and is a Phi Beta Kappa representative for the Greensboro campus.

“I’ve always wanted to be a nurse, ever since high school,” said Martin. When she returned to school in 2023, that’s what she set her sights on.

She’s adamant, though, that without GTCC and its caring, understanding instructors, it may have been an impossible goal.

“I have been fortunate enough to have lots of professors who have helped me so much. They have all been so supportive of me,” said Martin. “GTCC is also very affordable. That has helped me be able to attend classes.”

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