Graduate student Alexa Martin walked across the commencement stage on May 12, ending her education at SUNY Oswego.
Martin, who earned her MAT degree in art education, took advantage of staying at SUNY Oswego after completing her undergraduate degree to pursue opportunities outside the classroom. She started the Mental Health Awareness Club, served as secretary for the SUNY Oswego branch of a national leadership honor society and was president for the college chapter of the National Art Education Association.
Value of involvement
Her involvement in these organizations helped shape her SUNY Oswego experience.
“Joining clubs made me like the environment here even more” Martin said. “I enjoyed being around the people on campus and was able to create so many more relationships.”
The art education program allowed Martin to thrive in organizations that dealt directly with her degree. Through the student chapter of the National Art Education Association, Martin and her fellow MAT students were able to travel to the NAEA’s national convention in New York City in March 2012.
“It was awesome and we were able to experience a lot in the city,” Martin said. “We met great art teachers from around the country, went to different events, sat in on gatherings and even sell some of our artwork.”
The three-day annual convention focuses on enhancing art education through teaching, learning and research, according to the NAEA website. The New York City convention boasted over 5,000 attendees with over 300 sessions given by art education professionals from across the nation.
“We raised money through the club and the dean gave us a lot of funding for travel and stay,” she said. “It’s a club for art majors, but I’m getting a lot of great experiences and resume builders out of it too.”
Building lasting connections
The small art education program allowed Martin to get to know her peers and her advisor, Dr. Jacquelyn Kibbey.
“It’s a community here, especially with art education,” Martin said. “We’re really close and our advisor really cares about each and every one of us.”
Kibbey’s close interaction with her students was one of the strongest experiences Martin had in the MAT Art Education program.
“There’s a million different ways to teach art class, but [Kibbey] is great because she is so passionate and so well-versed,” she said. “I got a lot out of my program because she was my advisor.”
“It’s a community here, especially with art education. We’re really close and our advisor really cares about each and every one of us.”
Alexa Martin, '12
Art Teacher, Trinity Elementary School
Martin was able to satisfy her interest in mental health counseling, a field unrelated to her degree, by starting the Mental Health Awareness Club and serving as a graduate assistant in the counseling services center.
“It’s not related to my degree, but it’s something I am passionate about,” Martin said. “Through these opportunities, I was able to go to mental health conventions and be involved in other things.”
Martin is currently applying for long-term jobs in and outside New York, but has opportunities waiting for her. In June 2012, she accepted a position as a long term substitute teacher for the educator she student taught for, and now she works as an art teacher for Trinity Catholic School in Syracuse.
Although Martin has ended her experiences at SUNY Oswego, she will look back at her experiences fondly.
“The program here is really good for art education and you get so much more for your money,” she said. “Ever since I came to Oswego, I loved it here.”