Dear Montecito: Anna Martin

By Stella Haffner   |   July 9, 2020

Raise your hand if you’ve ever wondered why medical workers do what they do. Don’t be shy. No one can see you after all, you’re reading a newspaper.

It’s a natural thing to watch news footage of hospitals, the beds packed, the staff tired and wonder how anyone could want to go into healthcare (even when there isn’t a global health crisis). As someone who has at times been attracted to the medical field herself, I’ll be frank: I question the faculties of those who willingly pursue such a taxing, and often, dangerous job. So I’m thankful. Thankful to the front liners and thankful that this pandemic, if anything, has granted us a renewed value for our medical personnel.

Still, there is something lacking, and I know what it is. It’s a question. (I adore all things medical; I love the new tools to locate cellular changes and the squishy organs with special enzymes, but I understand that my interest is not a popular one.) And the question persists: why go into healthcare? Well folks, today we’re hearing from Anna Martin – someone to remind us why medical workers do what they do.

Dear Montecito,

Anna Martin

My name is Anna Martin. I was born in San Francisco and have spent the majority of my life in the Bay Area. In fact, I only lived in Montecito for two years. You see, we came up here often when I was younger to spend time with my cousins and grandparents who live here. My early memories of Montecito are speckled with what these vacations were like: visits to the beautiful beaches, playing with my cousins in the sand, all that good stuff. But that was just vacation. Real life is a little more complicated.

Some years later, my family decided to move down to Santa Barbara while my sister and I started attending the seventh grade at Crane Country Day School. It should be well known knowledge that moving schools (especially during middle school) is never easy.

My first year at Crane was rough. I met some people who are now life-long friends, but not everyone was as nice. I remember one math class in particular. We were all doing our individual practice work when one classmate turns around and asks me:

“Hey. Anna, don’t you live behind the El Pollo Loco?”

I don’t remember ever having been asked a question that made me feel so small. I wanted something biting to snap back at him. I probably said something along the lines of:

“Yeah, you got a problem with that?”

The boy turned around and just laughed with his friends sitting next to him.

I think I went home that day and thought of a million things I could have said to him.

Like: “Yeah, does it matter?” Or maybe just: “No, I actually live behind the 7/11.”

Oh well, it was seventh grade. People were mean. I did live in the San Roque area, so he was right. I lived near the El Pollo Loco, and my family got dinner from there on a few occasions. Is there anything wrong with that?

Real life isn’t vacation. This wasn’t the Montecito I was used to seeing on visits to my grandparents’ house, but there were good things that I didn’t have before. After all, Crane was where I really discovered an interest in science. Under the beloved Phil von Phul and the affable Pat Bixler, we learned about Physics by building boats and Chemistry by burning Cheetos. These were the sort of activities that opened my eyes to a love of science, but I still didn’t know what I wanted to do with it.

I knew I wanted to help people. When figuring out what I wanted to do, sometimes I’d reflect back on my years in Montecito. I’d think about our Service Learning class at Crane, sorting items at the food bank or playing with bunnies. I’d think about a program I belonged to called Assisteens where we’d work on different programs aimed at helping the community. My favorite was volunteering at the school store for kids from underprivileged families, a store that allowed families to pick out a few outfits, new shoes, and other essentials, all for free. It is a little-known fact that there are some families that cannot afford multiple outfits for their children, and so the kids take turns going to school and wearing that outfit. This means that the children miss out on attending school and developing integral skills needed in life. I believe it was this program that showed me how much I really wanted to help people and showed me how much I wanted to incorporate this into my future career.

I currently attend the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina. There, I am studying Biology, so I can become a nurse. Choosing nursing wasn’t easy. I knew I liked science and helping others, but I wasn’t sure what that held for me. I did struggle, like any college student, with wanting to – maybe – switch majors. During times I felt discouraged, I often considered other paths for myself (for a while, I thought I’d become an elementary school teacher). However, it became clear: I loved science too much to give up on the medical field. I really would like to be a pediatric nurse one day. I love children and think that if I can help some of them to feel better, then I want that opportunity.

To all those who are entering college soon, it is unfortunate that, because of the way things have been, making new friends will not be as easy as it might have been. But I challenge you to get creative. Reach out to others in your classes, meet the neighbors in your dorm, leave your door open on move-in day. I know it might seem very scary and intimidating, but honestly, everyone is feeling the same way. College is a chance to meet new people and grow as a person. Reach out, challenge yourself. You’ll never know unless you try.


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