Still Standing Tall
OSU senior overcomes obstacles with help from Institutional Diversity
There is no “quit” in Oklahoma State University senior Adam Martin.
The history (pre-law) major has been knocked down but never defeated while pursuing his goals of practicing law and running for political office.
“I’ve got a game plan on how I want these things to go, but I also know life,” Martin said.
The 2014 Wagoner (Oklahoma) High School graduate grew up with a single mom, always surrounded by loved ones.
“My mom raised me the best that she could,” Martin said. “I say that when you see me you see her, because … whatever she was going through, I was willing to do. She went through so much as a child … but she has never quit. Her example really pushes me.”
Other family support included his late grandfather who was a pastor, and his grandmother, a former first lady at Trinity Church of God in Christ.
Martin was always interested in law and can count as mentors a friend’s mom who is an attorney and another friend’s father who is a judge.
He registered for the Gateway Program at Northern Oklahoma College, which helps students meet admission requirements so they can transfer to OSU.
Unfamiliar with how to budget his financial aid, the first-generation college student ran through his funds the first semester. Unable to register for courses and with no financial support available from home, Martin wasn’t sure what to do.
He decided to pray and went to church. The following day, Martin’s youth pastor back home called and told him that he felt led to give him $40.
Martin still ended up living out of his car and began working two jobs: stocking shelves at Walmart overnight and waiting tables at IHOP in the mornings and early afternoons. A few hours of sleep later, he would do it all over again.
One tough day, Martin called Charles and Natalie Cox, asking if he could stop by their Stillwater home for a sandwich. He had roomed with their nephew in Iba Hall.
“When my wife and I found out he was living in his car, we said, ‘You aren’t going to be living in your car,’” Charles Cox said.
Martin lived with them several months. Cox encouraged Martin to reach out to Dr. Jason Kirksey, vice president of the Division of Institutional Diversity at OSU.
After meeting with Martin several times and learning of his grit and dedication, Kirksey told Martin his office would pay off the remaining debt on his bursar account. Martin worked in the Institutional Diversity office that summer.
“Kirksey was a role model to me,” Martin said. “I look at him as a dad because I never had one. He stretched out his neck for me, and not a lot of people would do that. Before I left, I’ll never forget it, he told me and he meant it: ‘Whenever you become great, don’t forget about us.’”
Kirksey is happy to see Martin scaling the obstacles he has faced: “My hope is Adam walks out of here as a person we can be immensely proud of.”
Martin is hoping to attend Oklahoma City University School of Law. He’d like to work at a law firm before running for the Senate or governor.
“Oklahoma has never had an African American governor,” Martin said. “I would like to be that first face … and get out there and show people that I can do this.”
He credits OSU for helping prepare him for the future.
“Being here has been tremendous,” Martin said. “It has been an awesome opportunity for me. It was a Godsend. I was meant to be here. If I would have gone somewhere else, I don’t believe it would have been this great and that I would have been this successful.”