Support from UNK allows Brin Martin to earn M.A.Ed. despite lengthy stay in NICU with daughter

Posted: June 20, 2023 6:00:00 AM CDT

Graduate posing with degree and woman.

Most University of Nebraska at Kearney students look forward to being handed their diploma on graduation day, but Brin Martin was excited to receive a hug from her advisor, Sarah Bartling. 
Martin received her associate degree from Mid-Plains Community College then transferred to UNK where she graduated with her bachelor's in early childhood in 2018. In 2020, after a couple of years of teaching Special Education, Martin decided to pursue her master’s online through UNK. She graduated in December 2022 with an M.A.Ed. in Special Education.  
“It’s given me a lot of skills I needed for my field, especially when it comes to different situations and circumstances,” Martin said. “My law classes and other courses like that have helped support my teaching.” 
The support Martin has felt goes beyond the classroom.  
As Martin was preparing for the 2021 spring semester, she called her advisor, Bartling, and explained her fears of taking a math course with a field experience because she would be on maternity leave at that time. Bartling began talking about her experience with her daughter’s birth and the many days spent in the NICU.  
“I thought, ‘Interesting, hopefully that doesn’t happen to me,’” Martin said. “Well come to find out, her circumstances were exactly my circumstances.” 
Martin’s daughter was born ten weeks early and together they spent 54 days in Lincoln’s NICU. 
“The professors that I had during that time were just fantastic,” she said. “They gave me the flexibility to do what I needed to do to take care of her and take my classes.” 
Although Martin has enjoyed and learned so much from her professors, she has really appreciated the assistance from Bartling, both in and out of the classroom.  
“She has been a support for me throughout my entire master’s journey. I can call her with any questions I have,” Martin said. “She has been, outside of a school setting as well, a person I can talk to about everything that has happened and vent to or ask questions to because she has been in the NICU with her daughter, and I was in with mine. She has just been phenomenal.” 
At the 2022 December graduation, Martin was able to get both her diploma and a hug from Bartling.  
And for Martin’s daughter, “She’s good,” Martin said. “She’s one. She’s crawling and eating everything! She is pretty cute, and I love her.” 

By: Heidi Knake

Category: Graduate Studies, UNK Online, Education, General

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