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The Behavior Analyst

News Story

Mikayla Martin ’23 is a passionate advocate for destigmatizing mental health. She wants to leverage her experience and empathy by becoming a licensed behavior analyst, and to help as many people as possible. Little known fact: did you know she was born in Germany?

Mikayla Martin ’23 is all about helping people, and her majors in applied psychology and human relations reflect that. It was important to her to find the right fit when it came to her college search, and while Martin wanted to be comfortable in the university she chose, she still wanted to pioneer her future as an independent young woman. Pace ended up being that choice for her. “Going to Pace opened up so many doors for me, both education-wise and experience-wise,” she told us. “I got a chance to meet so many new friends and try many new things. Pace is a great place to get a head start on my career.”

Martin, who was born in Germany to parents who were in the military, has been extremely passionate about her community and helping others for a long time. In particular, her focus has been on mental health—and what we don’t talk about, even by today’s slowly changing standards. “There’s a lot of stigma around mental health,” Martin explained, and it’s ultimately why she chose the courses she has. “My main motivator for [my] major was mental health in the Black and person of color community. In these communities, mental health is often overlooked, and people tend to not get the help they want and/or need. No matter which route I decide to take for my career, I will always circle back to this underlying cause and try my hardest to make a difference in this community.”

And Martin is always looking for ways to make a difference. She’s participated in the annual Pace Makes a Difference Day where students, faculty, and staff lend a helping hand in the local community by volunteering their time, and it was an experience that had a profound effect on her. “I volunteered at GiGi’s Playhouse and got to spend the day with children [who] had Down syndrome. It was easily one of the best days of my life.” Martin said the experience even inspired her to look into becoming a licensed behavior analyst. “It holds a special meaning to me, as I also have a family member [who] has autism. I plan on using my degree—and license—to broaden my horizons and help as many people as possible.”

That level of dedication to helping her community earned Martin the distinguished honor of being named a 2020 Millennium Fellow along with a select group of her Pace peers. “I have always wanted to start a program or host an event that could help those in my community, but I never got the opportunity to do so,” she explained. “To be able to work with others to help people on such a large scale is an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I’m excited for what comes next!”

In the meantime, Martin has kept busy with her studies and even a position as a patient care assistant at Cooper University Hospital. There, she volunteered her time in the intensive care unit. “[The ICU] sounds really intimidating, but working there, you realize it’s not that bad,” Martin told us. “Before my first day, I was extremely nervous because I thought it was going to be hectic and very fast-paced—almost like [an] emergency room. However, it’s very calm and everybody is very kind and relaxed, including the patients.”

At first, Martin wanted to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a nurse, but that job working in the ICU changed her mind. “While volunteering and observing the doctors and nurses doing their jobs, I began to realize I was more intrigued in their stories,” she explained. “I wanted to know how they ended up there, how it changed them as a person, and what they planned to do in the future.”

We know that natural curiosity and profound caring for others will only help Martin in her journey toward a fulfilling career.

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