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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Sophie Martins jumps from graduation to law school

Student+Government+Association+Acting+President+Sophie+Martins+gives+the+executive+report+during+the+SGA+session+on+Feb.+7.+Martins+served+as+acting+president+from+Feb.+2+to+Feb.+12.
Allison Campbell
Student Government Association Acting President Sophie Martins gives the executive report during the SGA session on Feb. 7. Martins served as acting president from Feb. 2 to Feb. 12.

Sophie Martins said it was a “wild day” when she learned she’d been accepted into not one, but two law schools — just hours before she interviewed CBS News Anchor Norah O’Donnell.

Martins, who just finished serving as student body vice president at Wichita State, plans to attend the University of Kansas School of Law after her graduation in May. She’s excited enough for all things Socratic method and career exploration that she plans to start early — in the summer.

The Wichita State senior said she found her drive to become a lawyer while attending Newman University. She decided to major in criminal justice after her adviser told her about the program and recommended Martins look into law school.

“I had never thought of law as an option because no one in my family had ever done that,” Martins said. “And I just started thinking about it more and more, and it sounded like the absolute perfect thing.”

Her adviser also told Martins about Wichita State’s Legal Education Accelerated Degree program, which helps students interested in law prepare for attending the KU School of Law. The program appealed to Martins, who decided to take a tour.

Soon after, she was filling out the paperwork to transfer.

After the switch in schools came a change in majors. Martins said when looking over the course descriptions for political science classes, she found herself getting “really excited.”

“(My parents) were like, ‘Why do you want to do politics?’” she said. “And I said, ‘Because I don’t know anything about it … And I would really like to know because I could tell I had a passion for civic engagement, but I didn’t understand how to necessarily articulate it.’”

Martins had already put her passion into play as a social sciences senator in Newman’s student government, but upon transferring to Wichita State in fall of 2022, she also had a more open schedule due to an injury cutting her softball career short.

Having played since age 3, Martins said she had an “identity crisis” of figuring out who she was outside of “throwing a yellow ball.”

Wanting to help others, Martins joined Wichita State’s Student Government Association (SGA) as an appointed at-large senator. She quickly grew to love the work — she “was in a sorority for two days” but dropped it to prioritize SGA.

“I clearly cared more about SGA because that was like, ‘It’s cutting into my committee time. I don’t think that this is for me,’” Martins said. “And I thought, ‘How nerdy is that?’”

Martins’ advocacy has also extended to being a student assistant in the Student Engagement, Advocacy & Leadership (SEAL) Office.

Gabriel Fonseca, SGA adviser, said he admired Martins’ ability to fully realize an idea or project without being given many details.

“I definitely appreciated her creativity, but also her drive to see things happen,” Fonseca said.

In the SEAL Office, Martins helped with the Shocker Support Locker, a supply pantry for the WSU community. She said seeing people in need pick up food items “lit the spark” of her wanting to “get big into SGA.”

Both Methodist and spiritual, Martins said she thinks whatever is meant to happen will (“I’m an 85-year-old person, I’m telling you.”) So when Iris Okere, former student body president, asked Martins to run as her vice president, she was ready.

“It took me two seconds to say yes,” Martins said. “Because I thought this is one of those moments of someone is like laying it on a platter for you of ‘here’s an amazing opportunity.’”

Vice presidency

Fonseca praised Martins’ work as vice president, from deciding a “significant number” of people to appoint to SGA committees to serving on the free menstrual products advisory board. 

Fonseca said some student body vice presidents have taken a “background” role, but Martins knew when to move into the “forefront” and when to be in the background, such as mentoring senators in writing bills.

“There are people in SGA who have been in SGA longer than she had, but (she was) still being able to use that space … to help younger senator, newer senators,” Fonseca said. “She was willing to try new things and have newer conversations or challenge people a little bit more.”

One initiative Fonseca noted was her advocacy for gender-neutral restrooms.

Gender neutral restroom map. Graphic courtesy of SGA.

During the summer of 2023, Martins partnered with Spectrum: LGBTQ+ and Allies to create a map of gender-neutral restrooms for students following the passage of anti-transgender Kansas legislation. She also sponsored the SGA resolution, encouraging WSU to ensure at least one gender-neutral restroom is on all floors of new main campus buildings.

Martins said this experience has helped her learn how to support others in need and will shape “the person I will forever be” as she moves forward into law school.

Okere said it was “genuinely an honor” to work alongside Martins.

“She’s so my ride-or-die and my right hand to everything,” Okere said. “Everything that she does, she does it with passion.”

Next path

Graduating a year early, Martins said she’s not sure which path she’ll take yet — she mentioned business, corporate, constitutional and tax law, to name a few. But she prefers being “crazy busy” and will start law school on May 16, only five days after walking across the stage on May 11.

“I don’t necessarily know what I want to do,” Martins said. “I just know that I’m so excited for law school to help me figure out exactly what my passion is because I can tell I have a clear drive to advocate for people.” 

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About the Contributors
Courtney Brown
Courtney Brown, News Editor
Courtney Brown is one of the news editors for The Sunflower. She previously worked as a reporter and assistant news editor. Brown uses she/her pronouns.
Allison Campbell
Allison Campbell, Editor in Chief
Allison Campbell is the editor in chief of The Sunflower. Campbell is a junior pursuing a journalism and media production degree with a minor in English. Campbell hopes to pursue a career in writing or editing after graduation. They use any pronouns.

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