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Changing Course For The Best Fit: Meet Recent Graduate Jose Martinez ’22

Recent oceanography graduate Jose Martinez reflects on his time at Texas A&M with his eyes on the future.

Jul 6, 2022

Recent graduate Jose Martinez (second from the right) graduating with friends. Image credit: Jose Martinez.
Recent graduate Jose Martinez (second from the right) graduating with friends. Image credit: Jose Martinez.

Jose Martinez ’22 had a mind for engineering coming out of high school. After applying to multiple schools, he settled on Texas A&M University. However, he realized quickly that engineering wasn’t the best match for him.

While he truly enjoyed upper-level math and knew he wanted to be in a STEM field, he just didn’t feel the same fascination with some other aspects of engineering like his peers.

A Change In Heading

After some conversations with a friend in the The Department of Oceanography, Martinez decided to investigate changing majors.

“I always wanted to do something ocean or coastal related, like ocean or coastal engineering,” Martinez said. “It was important to me to graduate on time, but still with a STEM degree related to the oceans.”

Upon finding that the oceanography degree plans synced up well with his existing course credits without delaying graduation, he took the plunge and signed up for the introductory oceanography class.

“I took that first oceanography course and absolutely loved it,” Martinez recalled. “I remember thinking, ‘this is for me, I found my niche.’”

Jose Martinez (top left) attending the Schade Cruise of 2021. Image credit: Dr. Chrissy Wiederwohl.
Jose Martinez (top left) attending the Schade Cruise of 2021. Image credit: Dr. Chrissy Wiederwohl.

Unique Experiences

Martinez counts the Schade Cruise for undergraduates as one of his most memorable experiences. Even without aspirations of becoming a full-time researcher, he credits the experience for showing him the field work side of research. He also appreciated the closer connections with students and faculty he was able to forge on the cruise.

“It was amazing,” Martinez reminisces. “The other undergrads and I bonded really well and we’re still really good friends and try to hang out regularly.”

Shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic started, he joined the Ocean Club, which led to more opportunities for new experiences. During a graduate student speaker event, he had an epiphany of what his education was still missing.

“I asked one of the graduate students, ‘what is the one thing you would keep on your resume if you had to throw everything else out?’ They replied simply, ‘research,’” Martinez recalled.

It wasn’t long before he would be working as a lab assistant in Dr. Kathryn Shamberger’s lab.

“I’ve worked in Dr. Shamberger’s lab since January of 2021, and it’s been great,” Martinez said. “I’ve learned so much and it’s right in the field I love: chemistry.”

Martinez would eventually end up writing a thesis on the work he assisted with in Shamberger’s lab. He credits Shamberger for her up-front and honest support that helped him improve his research and writing skills.
Image credit: Jose Martinez.
Image credit: Jose Martinez.

Eyes On The Horizon And Parting Advice

Martinez highly praised the Career Center for helping him prepare for the future.

“I’m always looking at what job opportunities this degree can provide,” Martinez said. “It seemed that a master’s degree significantly increased the likelihood of more opportunities with higher salaries and benefits.”

Looking to continue studying chemical oceanography, Martinez has been accepted into the University of Puerto Rico. He is originally from Puerto Rico, making this next step another good fit.

He hopes to one day work in environmental policy to help affect positive change. The advice he leaves for incoming freshmen is to actively seek out research opportunities.

“Do research, even if that’s not what you want as a career,” Martinez said. “Don’t be afraid to ask your professors. They will more than likely want to help you and will be very forthright with you.”

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