I am Belen Martinez, and I am a sophomore at Bakersfield College. I was born here in good ol’ Kern County where I lived in Delano for a few years and then settled my roots in the growing city that is Bakersfield. Growing up in southwest Bakersfield you would think that I would have graduated high school as a Mustang but I’m actually a Bakersfield High School graduate. Being a Driller opened so many different opportunities for me like a trip to New York City for Virtual Business Nationals competition!
So why Bakersfield College? Well, to be completely honest I didn’t want to go to school.
After I graduated high school I slipped into a very deep depression and an unhealthy relationship. But it was my mother who kept my slowly crumbling wagon rolling. She made me enroll at the Bakersfield Regional Occupational Center for their Graphic Design courses because she knew that I enjoyed doing that sort of thing. Well, after finishing all of the class work in the first month of the class my instructor, Daniel Binsfeld, noticed and saw the potential that I had and decided he was going to use it. I was given two internships, one at a more casual print shop location and the other in a more professional office setting. I learned so much I eventually started teaching one of my supervisors. But Binsfeld wasn’t done with me yet. He signed me and a few other students he though performed well in the class to compete in SkillsUSA, a partnership program of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. Basically, we too our technical training skills and competed against other students. But in short, I qualified in Regionals and then later took the Gold at State in both Job Interview and Desktop Publishing competitions. It was hands down one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had the privilege of experiencing.
So at this point I decided I really liked doing graphic design and I wanted to pursue it as a career. So I enrolled and became a TAFT COUGAR! Not quite to BC yet but I’ll get there eventually! I went to Taft College for two years. It was great. Everything you heard was pretty much true. Small classes, cheap books (for the most part), and free parking! I got a lot done at Taft. The professors were pretty awesome as well. Since the classes were so small, you actually got to get a close relationship with the professors and to me that was very helpful later on. But for me it was just too quiet. Way too quiet. And then the rubber met the road.
My toxic relationship was beyond the unhealthy point. It hit dangerous. I was being abused and it really affected how I saw myself. I felt like I wasn’t worth it, and that even if I did graduate I wasn’t going to make it out alive anyway. My mind had completely been hijacked and I completely believed that every injustice that was forced upon me was my fault. Because I didn’t act or behave the way he thought I should have he reacted the way he did. But fortunately after our most violent blow up he left me for someone else. At the time I was crushed. I thought I loved him and that I needed him to survive. That no one could or ever want me. My anxiety and depression had taken control of my life and I could barely sum up the courage to even leave my bed.
I was on medication and my family was there for me. My friends that I had lost contact with started pouring back in. They wanted me. They missed me. I remember being confused when they would say that. They missed me? But I’m back now? I was standing in front of them and they still “missed me”. I then realized that I lost my identity. I wasn’t myself anymore and at that moment came the realization that I will have to rediscover myself and take my life back. But to do so I took a few semesters off from school and was put on medical leave at my job for as long as I needed.
After months of therapy, my iron horse of a family, and my amazing friends that I am so blessed to have giving me the loving and courage that I needed I was ready to go back to school. Fall of 2014 was my first official semester at Bakersfield College. And I loved it! Yeah I almost had anxiety attacks because of the drastic population difference in comparison to Taft but it was a fun semester! I made friends of all kinds of variety! Young, old, tall, short, well you get the point. The diversity was just astonishing and to me it’s one of the best qualities about BC. I had great professors who all cooperated with my DSPS accommodations and just made my first semester at BC an enjoyable and bearable one. BC really is a wonderful place to get an education.
This is third semester at BC and I’m proud to say that I will be graduating as a Renegade with an Associate’s Degree in Communications this upcoming spring. I really started to see how much I enjoy studying communications and my peers would tell me it showed. It was always a shock to them when I would give my speech on Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder and then reveal that I was currently in recovery. Comments like “I would have never even known” reassured me that my healing was heading in the right direction. There was support coming from both students and faculty. It’s helped me keep going and pursing my degree and chasing my dreams.
In closing, I would like to thank my amazing communications professors here at BC for encouraging me to keep pursing this degree and really helping me realize how much I love communications. I’d also like to thank my peer and longtime friend Salvador Cruz for recommending me for this amazing opportunity.
“If you’re going through Hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill