(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Students in Texas State Technical College’s Dental Hygiene program are fortunate that their instructors bring a wealth of experience to the classroom each day. One of these instructors, Victoria Martin, lived in such diverse locales as Alaska and Puerto Rico before calling Texas home.
How long have you been with TSTC?
I began teaching with TSTC in the summer of 2016, but my love for wanting to teach at the Harlingen campus started much earlier, around 2007. I was living and teaching in Anchorage, Alaska, back then. My husband and I would come down to the Rio Grande Valley to vacation — and warm up a little. Going to and from the airport, we would pass by the TSTC campus. The main quad area of the camps is just beautiful, and I would say to myself, I pray I get to teach there someday.
What inspired you to get into teaching?
One of my former instructors, a mentor and friend, approached me to take over one of her classes when she retired. I was deeply honored. Once I started, my love for teaching grew with every class.
What did you do before your time with TSTC?
That is a topic that could make its own book. As I mentioned, I was teaching dental hygiene in Anchorage. During that time, I was also highly active in the American Dental Hygiene Association, along with practicing clinical dental hygiene in a public health setting. Besides providing oral health care in a hospital setting in Anchorage, we would fly to parts of rural Alaska to set up portable dental units and provide oral care to Alaska Natives. It was a fun and exciting time. My husband was a commissioned officer and dentist with the United States Public Health Service. Later, he was transferred to Puerto Rico. While there, I completed my master’s degree in dental hygiene. When my husband retired, we moved to the Rio Grande Valley.
What do you enjoy most about working with students?
Wow, there are so many things that I love about teaching. My favorite is watching the students grow, not only with their dental hygiene and critical-thinking skills, but also as confident professionals. By the time they graduate, they believe in themselves and are willing to take any challenge head-on.
Do you have a favorite TSTC memory?
A year after I had been teaching, my dad, who is a dentist, came down from Chicago to visit. I brought him to the TSTC dental hygiene clinic to meet my co-workers and students. This simple thing turned into a lifelong memory for both me and my dad. Both the faculty and students not only welcomed my dad, but they treated him like a rock star. My dad felt incredibly special and still talks about it to this day. That moment will forever be in my heart.
To learn more about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.