Martin pursues passion for medicine in Nigeria


Courtesy of Connor Martin

Senior Connor Martin of Spring Lake Heights learned various ways to treat injured patients during his service trip to Africa.

Evan Kuo

“There is a child running around Nigeria with a scar because of me, so that’s great,” senior Connor Martin of Spring Lake Heights said while recounting his trip.

Despite what his story implied, Martin had only good intentions when he stitched up the child’s wound. In the summer of 2017, he traveled to Nigeria with a group of doctors based at Johns Hopkins University to assist in pediatric surgery.

Martin stayed in rural Nigeria for 13 days, working daily alongside two surgeons to help children with hernias.

While on the job, Martin had to quickly learn how to perform procedures through observation.

“I had never stuck an IV or taken care of post-operative patients before, but it was just ‘get in the ring.’ You’re here, and you have to do it,” Martin said.

He had to help with up to 14 surgeries a day and administrative and organizational tasks on the side.

“We were basically working anywhere from 16 to 18-hour days,” Martin said. “We would get up really early, eat breakfast and get to the clinic as soon as we could.”

These long workdays meant that Martin did not have many opportunities to explore or experience Nigerian culture, but he believes that the tradeoff was worthwhile.

“Knowing that there are people more needy than me meant that it was not that big of a sacrifice to be tired out of my mind, if I knew that these kids were getting such a better quality of life,” Martin said.

Martin’s largest motivation to travel to Nigeria was his interest in medicine. His passion for the field began shortly before freshman year, after visiting his grandmother in the hospital exposed him to the medical world, Martin said.

From there, he further developed his interest through books and documentaries about medicine, epidemics and other historical medical events.

Despite wanting to pursue a career in computational biology, Martin said that he doesn’t regret choosing CHS over Allied. He said that the communication skills taught at CHS are far more important than any jump start he could have gotten in subjects like biology.

“I think that Communications has something for everyone. It’s about finding your passion, and finding the skills that you can use to best suit your life and make you the happiest,” Martin said.