Student Success Stories

Krystal Martinez was born in Redwood City and grew up in East Palo Alto, Hayward and Mountain View.  She had a white academic background, while living amongst other people of color who were Black, Latino and Fujian, a history which has given her an appreciation of diversity and inclusion.  In 2002, she graduated from high school and found herself drifting, falling in love at age 19 and moving to Washington. 

Upon returning to the Bay Area in 2004, Krystal began working at Kaiser Permanente as a cashier and attending Canada on a part time basis, taking general education and biotechnology classes.  By 2009, she was able to attend full time and was very interested in nursing and working in a helping profession.  At this time, Krystal’s mother, Melva Johnson, entered the picture.  Melva and Krystal’s sister Candice were ready to start school as well, and in her academic investigating, Melva discovered Human Services, and it was not long before Krystal switched her major and the whole family were HMSV students.

Krystal says, “I fell in love!  I knew what I wanted to do.  It was hearts and minds instead of blood and guts!”  Friends had always come to her with their problems and once she began in Human Services, she realized she really had a knack for the work and plunged into her courses.  She especially appreciated the Family Development classes, enjoying the creation of the portfolio, as well as the hands-on aspect of using the communication tools and the strength-based approach.  At the end of her coursework, Krystal sat for her Family Development Credential and was successful!

After her graduation in 2011, which is always held on a Saturday, Kystal stated working at the Disability Resource Center (DRC) the very next Monday, as a student assistant.  In a short time she became the Administrative Assistant, the position she holds today.  Initially, Krystal wanted to work with Middle School students, but after a brief time in the DRC, Krystal knew she had made the right choice.

At first, speaking with students about disability, handling crises, and finding herself privy to very sensitive information, was intimidating.  But Krystal soon found that her Human Services studies helped her meet her challenges.  Calling up her knowledge of empathic listening, utilizing paraphrasing and the ethics of confidentiality, all helped her be a calm, warm and positive force for students, and enabled her to meet them where they were at---a critical tenet of strength-based counseling and the foundation of human services work.

Krystal’s Community Health Worker knowledge was also useful in assisting her in developing partnerships with resource agencies in the communities surrounding the college.  As a result, she has been able to organize very successful health fairs for students. Her knowledge has helped students understand how to connect to the care that they needed.

Krystal reports that the numbers of students using the DRC have increased and the needs of the students have also increased, with crises occurring earlier in the semesters. She is very aware that stress can destabilize an individual and that every student is entitled to respect and care and support without assumptions.  Krystal uses her Human Services knowledge every day on the job and her students reap the benefits.  She is an excellent example of a Human Services Success Story!