Stacey Martinez

Respiratory Care Graduate’s New Field Hits Close to Home

When Stacey Martinez enrolled in the Respiratory Care program at GateWay Community College, she knew she was ready for a career change and was passionate about the field she was entering. But that passion increased tenfold as she witnessed her own daughter battle COVID-19 last year.

In the middle of her school semester, Martinez had to make the difficult decision to temporarily exit the program to make sure she was available to care for her daughter. “I wasn't sure how far behind I might be and how long it would take me to catch up, but I knew I would not be able to concentrate on my education with my daughter sick,” said Martinez.

As her daughter’s health improved, Martinez was ready to reenter the program. Diving back in headfirst, she leaned on the staff and faculty at GateWay to help her through it. “The teachers in my program are truly amazing, they all work very hard to offer students both a textbook and real-world education. When COVID-19 hit, our teachers had to adapt to teach online in such a short time to ensure we could finish our third semester as smoothly as possible. I have had nothing but positive encounters and experiences,” she said.

This May, Martinez will graduate from the Respiratory Care program. But for this graduate, her achievement is personal. 

“Many of my family members suffer from asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder, and Congestive Heart Failure. Even my daughter is a COVID-19 survival story herself. The bottom line is breath is life, and a single passive breath can impact more than just your lungs,” said Martinez.

In the future, Martinez plans on earning her bachelor's degree in Respiratory Care at Northern Arizona University. GateWay currently partners with NAU to help students obtain their bachelor’s degree after graduation if they choose to do so.

Looking back on her experience, she had this advice to give to students who are enrolled in the program, “Leave any fears you have at the door when you get here. This program is hard, it will push you and take you out of your comfort zone, but you will learn so much and can become a top therapist. Our field is growing as people realize how valuable Respiratory Therapists are.”

Another GateWay Grad ready to change the world, one breath at a time.

To learn more about the Respiratory Care program or any of the 160+ programs at GateWay Community College, please visit: