Marty Robinson is a junior elementary education major at the University of Indianapolis and was honored with the Nancy Larson Foundation Scholarship this year. Robinson said his passion for teaching came from growing up without a mentor, and because of that, he decided that he wanted to be a mentor for children like him, so they would not fall behind. Robinson wanted the chance to make a difference in students’ lives and build relationships with them.
“As I grew older, I realized that I was really good at connecting with children, a lot better than connecting with adults. So I started pursuing education because I felt like I could really help establish relationships, which are really important with children. And [it’s] really important to me to establish relationships with students,” Robinson said. “…. Every door has just been opened up in front of me, so I felt like this is what I’m supposed to do. I love being out in the classroom and I love being with the kids. It took a while to get to this point, but I kind of figured it out eventually, and it’s what I’m passionate about now.”
Robinson applied for the Nancy Larson Foundation College Scholarship, and after sending in recommendation letters and writing an essay, he learned he had received the scholarship. Robinson is one of nine people around the country who received it.
“[I wrote] an essay about why I wanted to pursue education, and a lot of the essay was about [Rita Pierson],” Robinson said. “I like to quote Rita Pierson a lot. She talks about the power of relationships and being a champion for children. I wrote my essay [for the scholarship] about that, to promote how I think that, content and learning aside … the most important thing is relationships.”
Robinson said that he used the award for this semester, which has allowed him to dive all in.
“The elementary education program is very intense, because you write a lot of lesson plans and do a lot of work,” Robinson said. “The funding the scholarship has given me has helped me put money towards my tuition, so that I have not had to work this semester, as in a part-time job. And I’ve been able to dedicate 100 percent of my time to the program and to my major, so that I can excel and get the most out of my education.”
Robinson’s plans for the future include finishing his senior year and getting placed in a kindergarten classroom.
“At this point in time, when I start my senior year, I want to get placed in a kindergarten classroom and a third grade classroom,” he said. “My post-graduation hopes and dreams are to get my own kindergarten classroom, because I really like working with the primary grades. Somewhere here in the greater Indianapolis area, I’m pretty much open too. I just want to get plugged back into a school and start helping build those relationships with students and help progress them to their educational goals.”
Director of Elementary Education Nancy Steffel believes that because of his personality, Robinson will be successful.
“I didn’t know he had this award, because he’s very modest. He doesn’t need the fanfare. He’s more excited that this scholarship will put UIndy out there as being an outstanding program as opposed to, ‘Look, I got this’ kind of thing. So that’s the way he looks [at it],” Steffel said. “He has a lot of humility. He’s very much a collaborator [and] a team person: ‘You need something, I’ll be there.’ We have a student who just graduated last year, and he volunteers in her classroom, to help her be more successful. They’ve developed a friendship, so he just spends hours every week in her classroom helping her and gets other students to volunteer, too, and so forth. He’s a very giving individual…. He’s just a good person who I’m excited about becoming a teacher and a colleague.”
Robinson is grateful for everything UIndy has allowed him to do thus far.
“Our education program here is really awesome. I chose this because it is one of the most prestigious. When you come out of here with an education degree, they’re like, ‘Oh, you went to UIndy?’ It’s really good. That’s why I chose here. It’s just really a great honor to receive this, so that I can be a recipient of this scholarship, but also be kind of a spokesperson for the education program here at UIndy,” he said. “A lot of people [have] a fairly negative stigma about becoming a teacher. But you know, it is a lot of hard work, and teachers are in high demand right now. Our program here spits out really high-quality teachers. It’s just a really big honor to receive it and be part of the program.”