My U-M Journey

By Giovanni Martinez May 3, 2018

The Decision

I remember the exact day I received my acceptance email. I was sitting in the living room with a couple of friends, waiting for their mom to drive us over to school. We were running late to our first period, but I could have cared less. The moment I saw the bold "CONGRATULATIONS," I became overwhelmed with joy. I can honestly say, I'll never forget the video of Rob, the robotic arm, inscribing our block M into stone to congratulate the admitted incoming freshmen students into the Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning.

In the summer months following my decision to commit to Michigan, doubts arose in my family: "How much does it cost to attend?"..."How much were you offered for financial aid?"..."Is it possible to receive more financial aid?" At one point, it felt to me like attending wouldn’t be possible. But with additional help from the university, the dream remained alive. I would indeed be a Michigan Wolverine.


On Campus

My first experience of campus was during Orientation in July of 2014. It was filled with enthusiastic student leaders; sunny, green sights of campus; and, of course, Insomnia Cookies. I was excited and couldn't help but smile while looking out of my temporary East Quad dorm window towards the rest of campus. However, once move-in day came around, my confidence was tested.

My flight out of Ontario International Airport was cancelled, leaving me waiting in limbo for six hours. While I waited with my family, watching my younger brother play the second-to-last game of his soccer tournament that weekend, I no longer wanted to leave. Maybe I'm not ready, I told myself. But as always, my parents lifted me up and were confident for me. As a result, what came next was four exciting years of growth.


Next Steps

Within the first week, I reconnected with people I met during Orientation, found a diverse community of talent within Living Arts, and began new friendships with fellow admitted Taubman freshmen. By the end of the fall semester, I experienced my first Michigan football game at the Big House and finished the semester strong. However, the winter 2015 semester was by far one of the most difficult for me. Not so much because of the snow: our snow-day was an unforgettable blast. It was the short, gloomy days paired with an intense mix of courses that pushed me to miss home for the first time. But guess what? I made it through and finished the semester decently.

Returning home for the summer, I became re-energized and enthusiastic for round two. I returned with a new mind-set, ready to re-conquer. And I did just that. My sophomore year remains my best academic year to-date. It’s also a year marked by unforgettable moments like rushing onto the soccer stadium field to celebrate with the team after keeping the Big Bear from State, and personal accomplishments like hitting a new peak of fitness.



My upperclassman years were overwhelmed by a strong dedication to my architectural education: long nights in the studio, hours in front of a screen, and days spent drawing and modeling. But it was here that I gained a new sense of identity and reshaped my perspective on the world. I owe this to Taubman's dedicated faculty and staff as well as my talented peers. I learned “old-school” methods of architectural representation, became fascinated with digital methods of architectural innovation, and traveled to Cuba and Mexico City to reinterpret my culture.

Looking back at my time at Michigan, sometimes I wish I had the remote control Adam Sandler had in Click so that I could press that tempting rewind button. I’d rewind to re-experience moments formed here as an undergrad; I’d rewind to allow myself to be a little more outgoing; I’d rewind to bring the knowledge I possess with me now back to the instant where I found myself lost or struggling. But if I were to press rewind, I know I wouldn’t have arrived to my graduation the same way. And I'm proud of the route I took to arrive at the end of my time here at Michigan.


Forever, Go Blue

If this blog post is to serve a greater purpose for all of you incoming Wolverines, take the following message embedded in my story with you:

There is no right or wrong way to live your time here at Michigan as long as you keep in mind that your decisions are part of a brighter goal, a larger end-game, a broader world. Give yourself the freedom to experience the culture Ann Arbor and Michigan have to offer, from Quickie Burger naked dogs before a football game at the Big House, to views at sunset from the top of the Maynard Parking Structure. Dare to be great, challenge yourself, keep your family close, and Forever – GO BLUE.

Giovanni Martinez

recently graduated with a BS in Architecture from the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. He can be reached at [email protected].