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A passion-driven quest to help others

Tim Martin, ’97, didn’t follow a traditional college path like most students. He spent three years on active duty in the U.S. Army before entering Georgia College his junior year.

Tim Martin (second from left) is surrounded by his family during his retirement
celebration from the U.S. Army Feb. 2018.

Although Martin wasn’t always an “A” student in high school, he was determined to do well in college. So, he immersed himself in his studies and finished early. His grades improved so remarkably, Martin was asked to speak at commencement. He had to turn down the invitation, however, due to mandatory basic officer training in Arizona.

“I had the highest GPA when I graduated,” he said. “It just amazes me, because I was such a poor high school student.”

As a political science major, the skills Martin gained at Georgia College paralleled his military experience overseas. He served two, one-year stints overseas in Iraq, as an intelligence officer in 2003 with the Fourth Infantry Division and as an Army information operations officer in 2009 with the First Calvary Division.

“As an Army officer, I communicated with foreign populations, to see how we could align their abilities with our operations to get us to positive outcomes we tried to achieve as a military force,” Martin said. “I was determined to understand populations, culture and language. My time at Georgia College played a role in that.”

On a broader scale, Martin’s academic background in political science—which included researching, writing and speaking—also led to his success as an intelligence officer. 

“I can’t stress enough the importance of the ability to gather, aggregate multiple data sources and assemble it into an understandable product with a logical explanation as to why we should do the things that we need to do,” he said. “That was critical in communicating recommendations to my military leadership. All of that ability came from my Georgia College experience.”

When Martin was at Georgia College, he also developed an interest in the Japanese language and culture. A former faculty member, Maki Tokioka, taught him Japanese. 

“She brought enthusiasm into the classroom,” he said. “At the time, I had little overseas experience. Maki taught us how to look at things from another cultural lens. That’s something that left a mark on me, because she was very passionate about it.”

Considering Martin came from a small high school, he appreciated the small class sizes offered at Georgia College. He feels that contributed to his success.

“The value that Georgia College has as being a small school was so beneficial to me,” Martin said. “When I was in a classroom with an average student base between 15 and 30, it was so perfect for me to have the attention I needed from the faculty, because a lot of things didn’t come naturally to me.”

Much of his coursework at Georgia College focused on constitutional law, public policy and public administration. He was able to apply what he learned in these classes to his duties as an Army officer. 

During his first deployment, Martin took the leadership abilities he gained at Georgia College and applied them as a commander to approximately 100 soldiers in Iraq. 

“I had a leadership responsibility to assure they came home safely,” he said. During my second deployment I applied cultural skills from my experience at Georgia College, where I had to communicate with a foreign population, letting them know what our objectives were, trying to help them by ultimately designing a military course of action to get rid of the bad guys while gaining their support.” 

Martin used what he had learned from Georgia College to help rebuild Iraq. 

“Whether it was my political science or public administration class, I never would’ve thought that as a student, I would literally have to help rebuild Iraq from the ground up,” Martin said. “We had to completely develop new institutions, local, regional and national government.”

In addition to helping those overseas, he is also passionate about teaching. After receiving his Master of Science Degree in Information Assurance, he became an assistant professor in the Joint Command, Control and Information Operations School at the Joint Forces Staff College of the National Defense University in Norfolk, Virginia. After serving 28 years in the military, his desire is to now share his passion for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at MartialQuest—his developing martial arts business. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu taught Martin to be humble, functional, confident and resilient. Now, he wants to instill these attributes in others by teaching it.

Tim Martin trains with his Jiu Jitsu Professor Pedro Sauer at his school in
Herndon, Virginia.

“We all have a journey in life. Since seventh grade, my journey has been one of martial arts,” he said. “Whether it’s physical fitness, trying to clear my mind to find a better or happy place, it’s a release. Now, I want to be able to do that for others as well.” 

Although as a nontraditional student Martin’s academic experience led him down a few different paths, he’s grateful for the experiences he’s had during his life.

“You should do what you love and happiness will follow,” he said. “If you do what you love, you’re going to be more successful. This is truly a message of following your dreams, which is in line with what Georgia College says, ‘Find your passion.’”

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