Editor’s Note: Domer Diaries is the newest storytelling series from the Alumni Association where members of the Notre Dame family tell their stories in their own words. This week’s Domer Diaries comes from Kathryn Martinez ’14, a Lieutenant and Naval Flight Officer who was part of the first all-women flyover crew from the U.S. Navy for Super Bowl LVII.
Name: Kathryn Martinez
Class Year: 2014
Residence Hall: Badin
Majors and Minor: Science-Business
Student Activities: NROTC, Women’s Club Soccer
Local Notre Dame club or affinity groups: Notre Dame Clubs of Washington, D.C. and Southeastern Virginia
Why did you choose Notre Dame?
My mom always told me I would have a “feeling” about the college for me — some gut instinct that it was the right place for me. She was correct. Notre Dame was the last school I applied to. It was the only college I didn’t visit. When my acceptance letter came, I called my dad at work and I could hear his whole office clapping in the background when he relayed the news of my acceptance. Shortly thereafter, as I was welcomed into the ND family by the Alumni Association welcome party and multiple members of my community [at a student Q&A event hosted by D.C. Young Alumni], it felt more and more like home versus just a college. The overwhelming sense of acceptance and inclusion is what ultimately led me to attend. When I stepped foot on campus, I had a … feeling. It felt exactly like I was meant to be there. Like I was home.
What accomplishments have you been most proud of in your career?
Earning my wings of gold after the first two years of service was the first major accomplishment and was a great moment to prepare me for the work ahead. I was so happy that day, but the work had just started for me. Since that day, I’ve had countless failures and successes during my flight syllabi and ground jobs, but there are a few moments that stand out and have made it all worth it: bringing my mom aboard the carrier at the end of my first deployment was quite possibly the coolest ‘bring your family to work day’ anyone could have; doing a flyover for Notre Dame-Stanford and meeting Coach Muffett McGraw is enough to thrill any ND fan; taking a break from work to jump off a boat into the middle of nowhere in the ocean is a rush I'll never be able to replicate; and the friends I have made that are my second family have made the job an adventure of a lifetime.
What did you learn from Notre Dame that helps you today?
Notre Dame is one of the best communities I have ever had the privilege to be a part of. Being surrounded by smart, kind, inquisitive, funny people day in, day out, teaches you to be a better person. Notre Dame fosters community and it teaches you to strive for perfection in yourself. But that doesn't mean your GPA or your major — it means your integrity, your spirit, your compassion. It means always doing the right thing, even when it isn’t easy. Having that background to fall back on when things get difficult sets you up for success. I also learned to always be curious and to try to learn something new each day. When you stop learning, you stop growing as a person and it’s not possible for one person to know everything at a job. Everyone has something to bring to the table and can teach you something if you know where to look and how to ask.