Veteran discovers career path in social work

Texas Southmost College alumnus and U.S. Army veteran Christopher Martinez an associate degree in social work from TSC in 2018.

It all started at Texas Southmost College for Christopher Martinez and thanks to the selflessness of one instructor, he has been able to find success.

The U.S. Army veteran earned his associate of arts degree in social work from TSC in 2018 and has since then earned a bachelor’s degree.

He will also be starting his master’s degree in social work in August.

“It has been a challenging transition from the service to civilian life,” said the Brownsville native. “But TSC, its Veterans Success Center and my instructors all gave me the guidance, support and resources I needed to find a path.”

After serving multiple tours in Afghanistan and 12 years in the Army, Martinez felt it was time to begin his education and pursue a second career.

Not sure what to study or program to pursue, he enrolled at TSC as a general studies student.

“Everything was so new to me at TSC,” said the 35-year-old. “It was hard for me to transition to normal life and socialize. I was slow to adapt. On top of that, I’m a husband and father of three, so there was a lot for me juggle.”

He added that every instructor he had was motivating, but it was meeting TSC Social Work Program Coordinator Martha Warburton that changed everything.

“It was Miss Warburton that introduced me to social work,” said Martinez. “It helped shape my perspective and gave me direction.”

When he started the program, he made up his mind that he would use what he learned to help the youth and other veterans like him find direction in their lives too.

However, he needed to graduate first, and only one class was getting in the way.

“There were three of us that needed one specific class to graduate, and it wasn’t being offered. We were going to have to wait two semesters, but all of us had already been accepted into universities,” said Martinez. “When Miss Warburton found out, it was approved for her to teach this class to ensure we graduated on time.”

Throughout his time at TSC and his undergraduate program, he applied what he learned in the classroom during his internships and this has inspired him to keep going and prepared him for a career in this field.

In 2018 and 2019, he interned at the Good Neighbors Settlement House in Brownsville, helping the homeless with food, shelter and other necessities.

Most recently, in 2019 and 2020, Martinez interned at Good Samaritan Community Services in Brownsville, where he has served the homeless and more than 500 Brownsville elementary and middle school students with resources that teach social skills development, work ethic and responsibility.

“TSC has drastically changed my life,” he said. “I’m now able to help some of the most vulnerable populations of our community, which is my primary goal. I have a wide spectrum of opportunity now and I know I am more than ready to begin my career in social work.”

For more information, visit TSC’s Social Work program.