As a first-generation college student himself, Dr. Michael Martin, Associate Professor English and Director of the Professional Writing and Digital Rhetoric Program at BU, knows firsthand what a scholarship gift can do.

After graduating high school in 1973 with a 2.8 GPA, Dr. Martin never really considered college. Coming from a lower blue-collar area, Dr. Martin knew that most people in his community did not attend college, so he decided to go into the service instead.

When he returned home, Dr. Martin enrolled at Iowa State University, the first in his family to do so. He ended his first quarter with a 3.1 GPA, but during the next quarter, his brother had a tragic accident, leaving him in an eventually fatal coma. Dr. Martin believed that nobody would care about his personal issues at such a large school, so after missing weeks of classes, he failed his finals and was expelled.

After being removed from Iowa State, Dr. Martin attended a small private school, Dana College. Here, his dedicated professors inspired him to follow in their footsteps and one day teach at the collegiate level. “They modeled what it meant to be a professor,” explained Dr. Martin.

While pursuing his B.A. at Dana College, Dr. Martin was also given the opportunity to study abroad in Western Europe because of one couple’s generous help. Harold and Dorothy Wright approached Dr. Martin, and after he expressed that he did not plan on going on the trip because of the cost, the couple offered to pay for his experience. This generosity would play a key role down the road in inspiring Dr. Martin to give back to students in similar situations.

After obtaining his Masters of Divinity Degree from Luther Northwestern Seminary and PhD. in Rhetoric and Technical Communication from Michigan Technological University, Dr. Martin began his teaching career at a junior college in Michigan. In July of 2009, he came to BU, where he says he has had “the best professional experience of his life.”

“My department at Bloomsburg is wonderful,” he expressed. “At most universities, the faculty is comprised of either teachers or scholars, but my colleagues are both. The BU faculty is truly remarkable and of great value to our students.”

When Dr. Martin began working with ACT 101 students at Bloomsburg, he realized the great financial need many of them have. He explained that countless students would have enough money to get them to school, but once they arrived, they wouldn’t have enough left over to cover basic college necessities, such as textbooks. So, Dr. Martin began buying books for his students, ensuring they had the tools they needed to be successful.

Dr. Martin started giving back to Bloomsburg through the Foundation in 2011, remembering what had been done for him during his time at Dana College. Since then, he has continued to give regularly, explaining that, “I believe in this place.”

After caring for one of his mentors, Lydia Rutkowski, for many years, Dr. Martin was left with a sum of money to share after her passing. He decided to make a planned gift to Bloomsburg University in her honor, creating the Lydia L. Rutkowski Professional Experience Grant. He also decided to honor the couple that sponsored his study abroad experience by establishing a second gift, the Harold and Dorothy Wright Professional Experience Grant.

“I have some incredible students in my classes, and there is so much to learn from them,” Martin noted. "Nobody gets where they get without some help from others.” As the generosity of others helped Dr. Martin, so he hopes to help others through his contributions to the Foundation.

I’m just an ordinary person who has had a lot of opportunities and been blessed,” he adds. “People have helped me out in many areas of my life, and I wouldn’t be where I am without them. I don’t have kids to give back to, so if I can make students’ lives more meaningful, my life will be more meaningful as well.”