Lisa MartinBainbridge State College takes pride in the successful alumni it has graduated in over 40 years of educating the people of Southwest Georgia.

Dr. Lisa Martin of Bainbridge is no exception to the successful alumni Bainbridge State College has graduated. During her time at Bainbridge State, she received two associate of science degrees. This was just the beginning of her educational journey.

In 2000, Martin graduated from Bainbridge High School, and then in 2002 she completed her first associate of science degree, before transferring to Valdosta State University to complete a Bachelor of Science in Biology degree in 2004.

Soon after she was accepted to Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Vision Sciences in 2007—and her Doctor of Optometry in 2009.

The Bainbridge native returned home to Bainbridge in December 2009, where she held a private practice for a year. In 2010, she joined the medical staff at Memorial Hospital. Currently, she practices optometry at Bainbridge Ophthalmology.

Martin claims that being a Bainbridge native has given her the opportunity to mentor many students through the school system.

She said, “I have spoken to children at our elementary schools on career day, dissected cow eyes with many middle school students, and I have mentored many of the high school and college students in my office. I love to tell kids about my college career, and I love to tell them that I started at Bainbridge State College.”

When a student comes into her office, she always asks them what grade they are in, and if they are going to college.

“Sometimes my seniors or fresh graduates hesitate a little when they tell me they have decided to stay home and attend Bainbridge State College,” said Martin. “I always like to see their faces when I tell them I did too. I think it really hits home with students that they do not have to transfer right away to reach their goals. They can start right here at Bainbridge State and get everything they need!”

The doctor finds herself giving back to the community, which she said has put so much into her over the years. She believes the local education programs played a huge part in the process.

She added, “From Climax Elementary School to Bainbridge State College, I had inspirations along the way. I am extremely thankful and feel very blessed to have been given so many opportunities from my hometown.”

In the fall of 2000, Martin was a fresh high school graduate and enrolled in her first semester at Bainbridge College. She was 18 years old and remembered her advisor—Dr. Elden Eckard and how he helped her set an associate of science degree as her first goal.

“I knew I was going into the medical field, and I knew that would lead me in the right direction,” said Martin.

She worked 30 hours a week and attended classes all day Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

She also remembered taking Dr. Barbara Freiling’s Humanities class. It was the first of her online classes. “Dialing up the internet,” and completing posts and quizzes seemed to take forever—but she completed each one.

She admitted how difficult college life could be sometimes while many of her friends were out having fun, she was “stuck” in class.

Memories of life changing events are also associated with Bainbridge College life.

“I was sitting in my 8 o’clock class at Bainbridge College when the Twin Towers were hit on September 11, 2001. It was scary time for everyone at Bainbridge College. We didn’t really know what the future held for us—for anything, but we kept on.”

It seemed like it would take forever to graduate and transfer to another college.

She took classes, enjoyed study groups and made lots of friends while at Bainbridge College.

Martin said, “I don’t remember everything I learned in class, but what I do remember is every professor and classroom I took those classes in while at Bainbridge College. I still remember what if felt like to study for one of Dr. Carol Leggett’s microbiology tests, or to rotate through the lab final with Dr. Mihalchik. I remember the blue booklet Dr. Young handed us with one question as our final exam.”

From field trips to the crime lab in Tallahassee to the first American Government class with Dr. John Vanzo—the memories are still there.

While at Bainbridge State College, Martin felt like she was more than just a number. According to her, the staff at BSC poured time into her and cultivated her.

“I was never anything spectacular. I was never the top person in my class. I did not win all the awards, but I was dedicated and I knew what I wanted to accomplish. So remember that every student has great potential. They can all be great things.”

Every day Martin wakes up and gets to do what she loves. She expressed her gratitude for BSC’s influence in making this possible.

“I couldn’t have done that if every day you didn’t get up and do what you love to do. That is how it works,” commented Martin. “I am very thankful for BSC and what it means to our town. I was a traditional student, but you also have the opportunity to help others make dreams come true at any age.

We live in a time where factories close and people change careers, and they need direction. We can pick them up and give them hope for a new beginning. You are here to inspire them. It’s never too late to start their journey.”

Many students like Lisa Martin’s foundation began at Bainbridge State College. It is a testimony of humble beginnings—and a chance to make dreams come true.

“I personally can’t say thank you enough for what you have done for me and my family and for this town. This is where strong foundations are built. My foundation began here. I am proud to call myself a BSC alumni.”


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