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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Retirement is only the beginning for biological sciences adviser

Wichita State’s last print course catalog, an old darkroom sign and not one but two places reserved for snake skins are some of the few things that remain in the increasingly empty office of Maria Martino.

After over 40 years at Wichita State, Martino, a biological sciences adviser and instructor, is retiring in July.

With the ever-changing landscape of academia, Martino said that it felt like it was time for her to move on.

“I think that there are times to pass the baton on to the younger crowd,” Martino said. “It’s a whole different ethic, and how you grew up, and what you know — it’s completely different for me for that.”

Martino received both of her degrees from Wichita State, a bachelor’s in biology in 1985 and a master’s in biology in 2020.

During her four decades at the university, Martino has seen a lot of change. When she first arrived as an undergrad, roads used to run through campus, over half of the buildings didn’t exist, and there was parking pretty much anywhere.

“The library used to have a drop-off box,” Martino said. “You could pull your car up and drop books off. And I’m like, ‘Wow, I miss that.’”

Although, she said her home hub in Hubbard Hall hasn’t changed much at all, not counting the discontinuing of some spaces like their greenhouse on the roof or getting rid of their X-ray labs, the former home of her darkroom sign.

“I never really saw myself as being that nostalgic, but everybody’s like, ‘Throw that away,’ and I’m like, ‘Darkroom, are you kidding me? People pay good money one of these days for this,’” Martino said.

Along with her advising job, Martino is currently charged with a section of an Intro to Microbiology lab.

This is where you can see Martino in full form, walking back and forth while lecturing and aiding her lab students with their work on bacterial cultures, all while a long, rainbow headband is tied around her head like a Vietnam-era soldier charging into battle.

As her students work, they’re not afraid to pull her aside to ask a question, show her a cool find under the microscope or just to swap stories about life. Martino said she suffers from “logeria” — the acute ability of talking too much.

Nyai Jackson, pre-nursing sophomore and fellow self-diagnosed sufferer of logeria, said Martino’s energy and passion for teaching “makes it fun to come to class.”

“She’s passionate, and she cares about you, and she’ll make sure that that’s known,” Jackson said. “She’ll teach you all about stuff (and) wait for that lightbulb moment where you’re like, ‘Oh my God.’”

Jackson and Hope Delgado, a pre-nursing junior, are typically the last to finish their lab work for the day, according to Delgado. But she never feels pressure from Martino to rush through everything, and she feels like she has a “support system” in her lab with Martino.

“I haven’t had a lab in seven years and just being able to have someone that actually cares is actually really important to me,” Delgado said.

Danielle Sands, pre-dental hygiene junior, said she’s sorry that other students will miss out on Martino’s personality in the classroom and will always remember her encouragement.

“When she comes up to me while I’m doing something, and she’ll be like, ‘You have good technique,’ or I’m doing something good, it just gives me motivation,” Sands said. “I’m gonna miss her.”

As m2 – Martino’s STEM-fitting email signature – prepares to sign off for the final time, she looks ahead to the future.

A few of Martino’s potential retirement plans: she wants to take calculus (she’s been “dying to take calculus”), make multi-purpose clothing with her new sewing machine, and put an inflatable mattress in the back of her car and “just drive.”

“I can do anything I feel like,” Martino said. “It’s so amazing.”

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About the Contributor
Trinity Ramm
Trinity Ramm, Managing Editor
Trinity Ramm is the managing editor and former sports editor for The Sunflower. This is her second year on staff. Ramm is a senior English Lit major and a sociology minor with a certificate in film studies. In her limited spare time, she can be found at the movie theater, browsing some obscure film database or crocheting. Ramm uses she/her pronouns.

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