Penn State Law helps former nurse find new ways to help and inspire others

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State Law student Ania Martinez has dedicated much of her professional life to helping others, having gone into the medical profession to serve people in need.

But as much as she enjoyed her work as a registered nurse, she felt that she could be doing more. Over the course of six years as a nurse, she began to see ways that nursing and health care policy could be improved to better serve patients — but if she was going to help solve those problems, she would need a little help to get ready.

That’s where Penn State Law came in.

“Being here now, I know that I made the right choice to do the kind of work that I want to do,” Martinez said. “Plus I know that after graduation I’ll be able to benefit from Penn State’s reputation and recognition, as well as being a part of one of the largest alumni networks in the world.”

Martinez said that, while law school and nursing school are very different experiences, they share one thing in common: They’re both a lot of hard work. Although she said she experienced a bit of a learning curve coming into law school straight from working in a hospital, she said her professors have done an excellent job presenting challenging material in a way that helps her thrive both inside and outside the classroom.

“Law and nursing may seem completely different, but there are some real ways they relate,” Martinez said. “They both rely on communication skills and being an advocate. As a nurse, you’re advocating for your patient, and that translates into law, as I want to be a passionate advocate as a lawyer.”

Martinez wants to work in health care law, with the goal of working as in-house counsel for a hospital or health care system. For a woman of her background — her parents were born in Cuba before immigrating to the United States — to work in either the health care field or the law, especially both, is a particularly proud achievement.

“Growing up in the environment I did, I wasn’t exposed to a lot of people in certain professions,” Martinez said. “My parents were lay people, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but growing up I never met people who would say, ‘I’m a doctor’ or ‘I’m a lawyer.’”

Because of her background and her academic success at Penn State Law, Martinez was recently selected as a recipient of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s James W. Stoudt Memorial Scholarship, which helps support minority law students. For Martinez, this is more than a helpful aid to purchase her textbooks — it’s an affirmation of her personal goals and her decision to come to law school.

“It’s important to have diversity initiatives and scholarships to encourage students who haven’t encountered people in professions they otherwise might not pursue, and expose them to new opportunities,” Martinez said. “I’m honored to have been selected for this scholarship. I want to use my education as a force for good, and be a mentor to people who otherwise feel like they might not have these opportunities.”

Last Updated March 15, 2017