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Student Spotlight: Serenity Martinez

From living in a small town to working in the big city, Serenity Martinez is not your average student. Known for her hyper-focused demeanor and southern go-getter attitude, Serenity knew that she wasn’t going to wait until her perfect job came knocking on her door.  As a first-generation college student, Serenity knew from a young age that big opportunities don’t just land in front of you, especially a chance to work for a Fortune 500 company like Southwest Airlines. Read on to hear how Serenity’s hard work and her time at ACU Online led to her getting to the job of her dreams.

Dazed and Confused

Growing up as an only child in rural Ennis, Texas, Serenity understood the importance of working hard, pushing oneself, and taking care of family while trying to have an everyday teenage life. And while neither one of her parents attended college, Serenity knew getting an education was how she would thrive professionally and personally. Starting off her educational journey at Navarro Community College, Serenity wasn’t sure what she really wanted to focus on. 

“I changed my major like 40,000 times,” she laughed. “And I took quite a bit of gap years because I just started going through their nursing program and took even more classes and finally did another gap year because I said, ‘you know, as much as I respect nurses, I faint at the sight of blood.’ So, I just started working here and there, and when I was working at the World Trade Center in Dallas, I realized, ‘Wow! I actually like how this involves business and marketing, and I think I can actually do this.’ And that’s when I decided, ‘Okay! I’m ready to go back to school.'”  

Getting Back To Her Roots

Knowing that she was interested in working with people and in marketing, Serenity wasn’t content with just obtaining her associate’s degree; she wanted more. Thinking about her future, Serenity flashbacked to a particular conversation she had with her 8th-grade mentor, Ms. McDonald. Remembering how much she admired Ms. McDonald for her sweet personality and constant encouragement, Serenity recalled how her teacher spoke about ACU. 

“I remember I was in eighth grade when I first heard about ACU,” Serenity said. “[Ms. Donald] introduced me to ACU, and since I loved her as a teacher, I kind of told myself, ‘You know, I kind of want to go to school where she went to school because she’s just so wonderful.'” 

Fast forward twelve years later, Serenity first encountered ACU Online through a Facebook ad. Immediately after filling out a lead form, Serenity was contacted by an advisor who told her that it was not too late – she could still reach her ideal career. 

“I just remember the advisor reaching out to me and telling me, ‘Hey! I think you could be a good fit at ACU Online. It’s fully online, and your classes are preselected. Just give me a call because it’s not too late,’ and I took that as a sign to just go ahead and do it, and it turns out, it was one the best decisions I could have ever made,” Serenity remarked.

In a matter of weeks, Serenity became an official Wildcat eager to obtain her B.S. in Marketing. Dedicating the next two years of her life to finishing school, Serenity wasn’t ready to stop there. 

Taking Her Dreams To The Skies

Continuing to work at Starbucks and the World Trade Center, Serenity made a pact with herself. When a new opportunity arose, she was going to take it. And so, she did.  It was November 2021 when opportunity finally knocked on her door. Having attended a conference with Dr. Dena Counts, program director of ACU’s online B.S in Organizational Leadership and B.S. in Applied Communication, and Tony Roach, vice president of customer experience & engagement at Southwest Airlines, Serenity was star-struck. After applying for multiple Southwest Airlines positions and being rejected without an interview, Serenity saw this as her chance to make an impression. And without hesitation, Serenity popped the question to Tony: “Hi, how do I get a job here? I want to work here and think I would be a good fit.”

Taken aback by her confidence, Tony asked her what she would like to work in. Without skipping a beat, she answered, “Something interactive! Maybe something in customer relations.” Seeing her spunk and quick-witted personality, Serenity was hired on as a contractor for Southwest Airlines within a few weeks. For the first time in her life, Serenity not only loved her job, but was enjoying her classes. She was thrilled to wake up every day eager to start something new. 

Reaching For New Heights

But with any change, there’s always some amount of difficulty. Focused on passing rigorous courses and tests for Southwest, Serenity quickly learned that flying toward a full-time job, while finishing her undergraduate studies wasn’t going to be as easy as she first thought. And after months of hard work, Serenity accepted a job at Southwest Airlines specializing in customer relations – something she says is worth the two-hour drive to-and-from work. 

Having completed her coursework in August 2022, Serenity considers herself lucky to have attended ACU Online for her bachelor’s degree and plans to walk the stage in December 2022. With close family and friends surrounding her and cheering on her every move, Serenity’s next goal is possibly pursuing a master’s degree. 

Until then, Serenity is eagerly awaiting graduation. Knowing that whatever life brings next and wherever the road takes her, a few things are for sure: you have to work hard for what you want. You have to trust in a higher power. You have to go with your gut. The rest is relatively easy. 

Do you want to find your passion while pursuing your career like Serenity? Visit our website or call 855-219-7300 to learn how you can step into a diverse, innovative future at ACU Online.

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