Martha Selmon

STUDENT PROFILE

Name: Martha Selmon 
Residence: Lake Wylie, South Carolina
Degree: Professional studies, psychology minor 

As a military-friendly school, Winthrop University has helped ease Martha Selmon’s path to working in healthcare.

Selmon’s military service enabled her to move around the country and to live overseas. Now, she is concentrating on finishing her bachelor’s degree and then earning a graduate degree. 

Born and raised in California, Selmon moved to Yuma, Arizona, when she was 18. She earned her GED there in 2010 and started working on a nursing degree at her local community college, but then changed gears and instead joined the U.S. Army in 2013, becoming a dental specialist. 

After basic combat training in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and advanced training for dental specialists at Fort Sam Houston in Texas, she was assigned to Landstuhl, Germany, the largest military hospital in Europe. There, she cross-trained as an oral surgeon's assistant while doing other clinical rotations in the dental healthcare setting and administrative setting. 

Selmon married a fellow active-duty soldier in 2015 and received an honorable discharge from the military in 2017. Once her husband left the military, they moved to Arizona, where she earned a cosmetology certification. The couple, who have two boys, moved to South Carolina in 2022 to be closer to her husband’s family. 

“I decided to set a goal for myself: to finish what I started many years ago. I wanted to take that challenge a step further and pursue graduate school,” Selmon said. “I found my passion for healthcare before the military, which was further reinforced during my time in the Army while serving in the healthcare field.”

A quick Google search pointed to her next station: Winthrop. She ultimately chose the Bachelor of Professional Studies with a concentration in health services and a minor in psychology because it closely aligned with her educational goals. 

“It also got me the most transfer credits along with military credits, which will allow me to graduate in record time,” Selmon said. “I started the second half of the fall of 2022, and I’ll graduate with a bachelor's, a concentration, and a minor all in a little over a year [December 2023].”

When she walks across the Winthrop Coliseum stage on Dec. 16, she’ll become the first in her immediate family to graduate from college. She called her Winthrop experience “very fulfilling.”

She is considering her options for graduate school and will enroll in an M.B.A. or M.H.A. program in the fall of 2024.

“I have loved how they treated me here, from the faculty and staff to other students. The comradery is excellent, the culture here at Winthrop is fantastic, and it is a military-friendly school that knows about helping students utilize their GI Bill benefits,” Selmon said. 

In addition to her studies, Selmon volunteered as secretary of the Student Veterans of Winthrop, was elected vice president of the Spanish Club, and belonged to the Healthcare Management Association. 

“I have had opportunities that allowed me to impact other students on campus and spread awareness about Latinx students, nontraditional adult learners, and juggling being a wife, mother to two small children, and a full-time student with a 3.9 Winthrop GPA,” she said.  

She took advantage of conducting undergraduate research on Latinx students with faculty member Scott Amundsen. She also represented Winthrop at the 85th Association for Continuing Higher Education (ACHE) conference in Charleston as a student panelist, sharing her story as an adult student learner and being a role model and inspiration for others. 

With her military background, she was already used to working with people of all backgrounds and ages, which has been advantageous for her. She mentions that Winthrop is a welcoming environment because Winthrop is a diverse campus. “I can bring my experiences into the classrooms and offer insights to my classmates about my real-world experience in the Army,” she added. “The classes are challenging but rewarding, and I can see the value and quality of the lessons I am taking here. I have been told that some traditional students look up to me because of my perseverance and willingness to take on added responsibilities to help myself, the campus, and my peers if needed, which is very humbling.” 

She has many good memories of her year at Winthrop. She has made friends, played trivia games, and participated in Spanish Karaoke night. She expressed gratitude for all of the professors and faculty with whom she had the honor to take classes at Winthrop. She mentioned 10 Winthrop faculty members who stood out to her because of their special support and understanding in her academic journey: Dr. Scott Amundsen, Dr. Pat Guilbaud, Dr. Michael Matthews, Dr. Joanna Jackson, Dr. Merry Sleigh, Dr. Donna Nelson, Dr. Jennifer Disney, Dr. Malayka Klimchak, Professor David Zatz and Professor Amanda Stewart. 

She dedicated her degree to her late father, Jose Hernandez. “He is my inspiration, even in his physical absence. I also want to thank my immediate family and friends because, without their support, I would not be as successful as I am,” she said. “They know who they are. I continue to strive for greatness because I want to be a positive example for my children and all others who may see themselves in my story. I want to encourage traditional students and non-traditional adult learners to pursue and finish their degrees. It is never too late, and I want to remind everyone that you CAN do anything that you set your mind to, especially with the support that Winthrop offers their students.”