Going to school to become a nurse wasn’t easy for Daniel Martinez, but he made it through his board exams and now works at Memorial in a general unit on the second floor. Moving to the States, attending nursing school and getting his own apartment last year were feats he accomplished through the help of his faith, his family and his friends.
Born in Costa Rica where his parents met during college, Daniel then grew up in El Salvador. His father Daniel was a pastor and his mother Evelyn was a teacher.
“Growing up as a preacher’s kid was interesting because we moved from city to city about every four or five years. I made a lot of friends and met a lot of people over the years,” Daniel says.
When he turned eight years old, Daniel found that he was taller than most of his peers and felt the need to protect the ones who were smaller or weaker than himself. Daniel enjoyed being around people and loved helping.
“I always had this thing of protecting those who couldn’t help themselves. The medical field is the same idea because I am helping those who are sick. I always wanted to be a doctor, a fireman…a teacher… something that helped people, but medicine intrigued me,” Daniel says.
His father was given the opportunity to pastor a church in Indianapolis and the Martinez family moved to the States when Daniel was 13.
Frequently moving around when his father accepted pastoring positions never hindered Daniel from making friends. He enjoyed going to church and meeting new people. Daniel and his two sisters Gabby and Emily were never obligated to join their parent’s beliefs, but were given a choice.
“Even though dad was a pastor, my parents never pushed things on me. They taught us what was right, but I appreciate that they never forced us to believe. Dad just looked at it that he taught what he could and the rest is our decision. If I didn’t make the right choice about something, he would talk to me in a non-judgmental way saying, ‘This was your choice - now figure a way to work it out’,” Daniel says.
Acknowledging several other ideologies and philosophies, Daniel chose his parents' beliefs and knew it was the right choice for him. Being given that freedom to choose built the strong character he has today.
Daniel watched his family go through terrible financial difficulties when the recession of 2008 hit, but he still wanted to go to college. He was able to attend a community college in Indiana for his prerequisites and then able to come to Southern Adventist University in 2011.
“When my family went through that hard time, there seemed to be no money for anything and I still wanted to go to school. I got a little bit of a scholarship, but I also had friends from church who helped. Some people said, ‘I don’t have money, but I can give you a roof and food…’ I didn’t have money for anything and was broke when I came to Southern,” Daniel admits.
He had looked into Michigan and Washington before deciding on Southern. “I liked this city, the campus and the southern feeling… it reminded me of home a little bit. People are more warm and friendly here and they wave at me when I pass them,” Daniel says.
The Hernandez family opened up their home to Daniel and he stayed with them for about a year while he worked and studied. Nursing school wasn’t easy. Daniel had to have a passing grade of 78 in order to get his RN certification.
“I knew God had opened the doors for me to come here. He wouldn’t have provided for me if He didn’t,” Daniel says. “That kept me going - just seeing how God worked every single time. He was never too early or never too late.”
One of the first places Daniel went when he came to Chattanooga was Rock City.
“I loved this area, camping with friends, getting in the river – I had not gone to a river in nine years,” he laughs.
When he wasn’t working or studying, Daniel would find the time to get out with friends, going to various restaurants and going to his favorite place – Sunset Rock.
In October of last year, Daniel got his very first apartment.
“It was exciting to get my own place for the first time ever,” Daniel says. “My parents weren’t here to help me. I did everything on my own. I called the lady, I looked at it and I even got money myself for deposit and first month’s rent. It was hard, but one way or another… I was able to pay that. I didn’t have anything but a bed. I remember getting my first couch. It was really exciting,” Daniel says.
Music has been a big part of his life. He grew up around music listening to his parents play oldies and his dad sang. In 2007, Daniel began playing the guitar. At first he didn’t like it because he couldn’t play, but a friend showed him a few chords and he fell in love with it.
“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh I love this’ and I have picked it up ever since,” Daniel says.
He will play for church, the praise team and chapel and is going on a weekend tour to North Carolina.
“I write my own music whenever I can feel inspired. Hopefully, one day I will make a CD. I write songs about things I have been through. I wrote a song about God’s faithfulness,” he says. “I was awestruck about God’s faithfulness and how good He has been to me. When I go through a situation - if I have a song, it is easier for me to remember that it is okay and it will be alright. I write about things that talk to me.”
The two years in Chattanooga have been very busy for Daniel, but when he gets a chance, he goes to Sunset Rock to take in the beauty. “When people come visit me, that is the one place I take them to,” he says.
With the intensity of nursing school, Daniel insists that many things kept him going. He knew that God brought him to Chattanooga and he provided. He had his faith and the support of his family and friends as he went through studying, taking test and sometimes failing.
“I had all kinds of thoughts. At one point during second semester, I wondered why in the world I did it. There was a lot that I didn’t understand. I had to learn ‘critical thinking’ and, you can’t learn it from a book,” Daniel says. “You have to develop critical thinking which is having that gut feeling and intuition. That is the hardest thing for a student to develop.”
Daniel considers furthering his education, possibly a double major adding theology classes. He will contemplate medical school and being a nurse practitioner.
“What I have learned from all of this is that you just have to keep going even when you get to that point when you think you can’t. It might be that you draw on your faith in God - some people don’t, but they can grab onto whatever they believe - just keep going because better days will come,” Daniel advises. “Never give up because one day you will be able to overcome and achieve your goals in life.”