Dean’s Medalist: Harrison Martin

Harrison Martin

Graduate, M.A. in English Literature

Growing up on a dairy farm in rural Fresno with his family, Harrison Martin says he always had a book and big dreams.  Before coming to college, Martin took the initiative and sought out admittance to University High School because he knew it would prepare him for college – even learning to play an instrument to fulfill the admissions requirements. 

“[A]midst the daily chores of collecting eggs and helping my grandfather feed the cattle, I knew I, myself, wanted to strive for a different kind of life. A book always in hand, I read of the ideas and the marvels of people living in cities and in other countries,” Martin said in a statement.

He found a path to that life through education. As a first-generation college student, Martin was keen on receiving the most from his college experience. As an undergraduate English major and classics minor, Martin traveled to Rome and saw the relics of the ancient world first-hand. Through that experience, he was able to strengthen his studies and broaden his network of fellow academics.

“Harrison is that rare find among students in any department: a true scholar. He has a genuine curiosity about the world that isn’t contained within borders, and with that comes a specific kind of historical and cultural literacy. He is fluent in multiple languages, historical epochs, and geographical and cultural spaces,” Professor of English Samina Najmi said.

As a graduate student, Martin struggled financially and took a year off to establish himself as a middle school teacher at Carden School of Fresno. With his students, he emphasizes language arts, history and Latin, focusing on the connections between them within ancient and modern worlds. Through this, he has excelled at his rigorous studies as a graduate student.

“Leadership, despite any first impressions of shyness, seems to come easily for Harrison, in part because of his own industry and the example he sets, but stemming equally, I think, from his amiable and collegial character. He has an innate sense of caring and a friendly, outgoing personality,” said Professor of Classic and Humanities Kristi Eastin.

Throughout his time at Fresno State, he has worked as a tutor in the Writing Center, a Latin Tutor for the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures and an English instructor.

“[I]t’s my lifelong goal to continue showing the joys of interconnected humanities to more future young minds in Fresno,” Martin said.

Martin has been the recipient of the Professor Emeritus Eugene Zumwalt English scholarship, the Garabedian scholarship, the Phebe Conley scholarship, and the McNair scholarship. In the summer of 2016, as he began his graduate studies, he received a full scholarship to a spoken Latin program in Rome.


The College of Arts and Humanities Students of Distinction represents the best of their department and will be honored at the Arts in Motion event at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 10 – the culminating event of the Arts in Motion Showcase week. From these students, one undergraduate and one graduate Dean’s Medalist will be selected. The Dean’s Medalists are then eligible to receive the President’s Medal, the university’s highest student honor.

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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