When asked about her role models, it is no wonder Danielle Martin-Jensen identified them with characteristics such as strength, compassion, and courage; it is those characters that Danielle also exudes, quite marvelously given her life circumstances. What some might call hardships, Danielle would simply call “life.” Her pragmatic “can-do” attitude, taking circumstances in stride and continuing on with sheer stubbornness and determination has brought her here, to Kent State University. Beginning as an undergrad and currently in a graduate program studying Russian translation, she influences the lives of faculty, staff and students with her leadership and compassion.
At a young age, Danielle became intimately acquainted with social services and the value of community programing as she and her mom went from shelter to shelter in Santa Barbara County, CA escaping the unhealthy and violent relationship with her father. Attending ten different elementary schools, she became accustomed to change. Paso Robles Youth Arts Foundation brought a sense of stability to her life during her middle school years, providing an escape in the form of art, theatre and dance. Long days of enriching experiences kept her out of trouble—for which she’s grateful. During her high school years, Danielle discovered her love and propensity for language. Inspired by Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky and his novel, The Brothers Karamazov, Danielle sought out opportunities in Russian translation. Wanting to break the cycle of poverty in her family, she knew pursing higher education would be a good starting point. Buying a ticket with the money she saved from a tutoring job, and merely equipped with her suitcase, backpack, down pillow and blanket, she journeyed the three day train ride to Kent, Ohio.
Recalling her undergrad years, she says “I discovered a sense of community for the first time; I always floated within and among groups, but here, I found belonging.” She learned about her own heritage, the Oklahoma Choctaw tribe, from her involvement with the Native American Student Association and has since been an active leader in the group. The Russian Club afforded her the opportunity to organize a Russian week of activities with renowned speakers and stimulating workshops. She is a mentor with the LGBTQ Center. And it was during her Semester at Sea trip in which Danielle studied, explored Europe, and her wife proposed.
Upon graduation, Danielle returned to California and married in a beautiful park in Arroyo, Grande, CA. Two years later, she applied to the Russian graduate translation program. During the cross country journey back to Kent, Danielle felt very ill. One week before classes started, she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Determined to continue, she is getting acquainted with caring for herself while she pursues her grad school journey. Danielle has also been conquering anxiety her whole life, and college has proven no exception. While anxiety may be limiting, taking the words from her revered professor Dr. Tatyana Bsytrova, it doesn’t limit her from “remaining extremely active, supportive, enthusiastic, and kind.” Her anxiety is an attribute she uses to connect with and support others.
Danielle takes note of the important people placed along her path, whether they encouraged, challenged, inspired, or taught her. From her soulmate to her best friends, professors, and spouse, Danielle is grateful for them. She believes in standing with and for people; she leads this by example and pleads for others to do the same, seeking growth even in the uncomfortable. Whether her future is working as an FBI linguistic, with Russian refugees, or teaching, she will do it with heart, determination and passion. In Russian, the term to refer to their own is “nashi,” translating to “ours.” Here at Kent, we are proud to call Danielle "nashi."