Fairmont State president brings donation to Harman

Submitted photo Dr. Mirta Martin, Fairmont State University president, and the college’s Tyler Keller display the school’s donation of cleaning supplies and food for the Harman area

ELKINS — The president of Fairmont State University visited Elkins this week, bringing along a donation of food and cleaning supplies to the cleanup effort in Harman.

Dr. Mirta Martin, Fairmont State’s president, wants to meet with community members and community leaders throughout the state to thank them for their support of higher education. Also this week, the university put together a 60-pound donation for Harman including non perishable foods and and cleaning supplies.

“The donation coincides with our tour event here in Elkins,” Tyler Keller, a representative of the president’s office, said. “We donated upwards of 60 pounds of food and supplies to the (Post 29) American Legion, which is coordinated with the fire department for the people affected from the flooding in Harman. It is just something we felt we needed to do on campus and people were more than willing to give to help the community.

“In Fairmont, we think it takes a village to make our younger generation successful and to encourage them. So, anywhere in the state we can help and reach out to learn what communities are doing and to learn what is going on around the state. It is about how we can better serve people.” said Tyler Keller from the President’s office.

On the second stop of the Fairmont State state-wide appreciation tour, Martin thanked the community and its leaders for continuing to inspire the younger generation to succeed and strive for a degree in higher education.

“For me, I think people working in higher education are in the noblest professions in the world,” she said at Post 29 this week. “We have the privilege to be able to make a difference to impact a new individual and to make a difference in the next generation of leaders.

“It is very personal for me because my husband and I are first-generation students. We were the first in our family to go to college. Education has been transformational and along the way we were very blessed to have individuals who thought enough of us to open a door for us,” she said. “We still had to go through it, we still had to work really hard, but having that person to open the door so you can go through it, to be the voice when you don’t have a voice, that meant an awful lot. So, it is my time to pass it forward to the next generation of leaders, to inspire you to go on to college.

“With an education, anything and everything is possible, especially here in our United States. What we find though, for whatever reason, there is not a college-going culture in many parts of the state. We need to change that,” she said.

Martin urged the community to “speed up the process” and try to lead the new generation toward the path of success.

“We need the community’s help to take time to make time to sit down with someone and have conversation with someone and to say, ‘This is a path forward. How can I help?'” she said.

“Today, only 33 percent of Americans hold a four-year degree and in West Virginia only 11 percent of our population holds a four-year degree. I came from the poorest of the poor. I lived with my grandmother, and like many Americans today, she worked two full-time jobs. I worked a full-time job and went to high school. On Sundays we would get up, go to church, and then we would go to clean houses. It was the money from cleaning those homes that put food on the table,” she said.

“I can tell you that I still remember going hungry. It wasn’t because we weren’t working our brains off, there wasn’t an extra hour in day to work because if there was, we would be working it.

“The greatest gift that my grandmother gave me was saying to me, ‘You will go to college,'” Martin said. “I knew that it would be a tremendous hardship because the money that I earned from working a 40/50 hour week wasn’t my money. I gave it all to her to help run the household. I knew that if I left, she wouldn’t have that and she didn’t care. She told me that I was going to college. She gave me those wings by making that ultimate sacrifice and because of her, I am here today.

“Again, part of this tour is to say to families and to community leaders, ‘Thank you for inspiring a child everyday to go to college, but let’s speed it up. Let’s take a little bit more time to say, ‘You don’t think you can go to college, let’s work on it. Let me make a few phone calls. Let’s see how we can get you there,'” she said.