Even while he was shoeing horses, he was always fascinated with "how things work"
Martin, now a grandfather, will receive his bachelor’s in civil engineering this June.
“I was always interested in how things work,” he says. Engineering seemed like a natural fit. A friend and counsellor at a school on the Kahnawake reserve suggested Martin start off by developing good study skills. “It was one of the best pieces of advice I was ever given.” So he started by taking courses he felt most passionate about.
The key to his success, Martin says with humour and modesty, is “perseverance, or in my case, bull-headedness.” He kept working full-time as a farrier, taking sociology, psychology and anthropology, and then the math and calculus prerequisites for engineering studies. “I knew I didn’t have a fresh mind so it might be harder for me than for someone else,” he says. He compensated by taking reduced course loads, summer courses, and putting in a lot of late nights. At the beginning, he says, it was “really rocky finding my feet.” He credits Concordia’s centres for Native Education and Mature Students (the latter now part of the School of Extended Learning’s Student Transition Centre) for helping him find his path.
Martin works for the Mohawk Bridge Consortium, which was awarded the first contract in the rehabilitation of the Mercier Bridge. The project involves the federal and provincial governments, along with the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake.
Learning, he maintains, isn’t just about schooling; it goes on everywhere, all the time. “If you can memorize the names of the contestants on American Idol or learn somebody’s phone number, you can learn this other stuff. People always say, ‘Oh, I could never go back to school.’ That’s the kind of statement that just shuts everything down.”
• Concordia's Department of Building, Civil and Environmental Engineering
• Concordia's Centre for Native Education
• Concordia's Centre for Mature Students
Originally published by The Concordia Journal.