Juliane MartinezMay 11, 2020 — CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) Psychology and Business double major Juliane Martinez, 20, found her calling among the flowers and people thriving at the Growing Works Nursery in Camarillo.

Her experience at Growing Works led her to delve into the field of “positive psychology,” a study of human flourishing, and that research in turn led to Martinez being named a 2020-2021 Newman Civic Fellow.

“I’ve never been given an award like this I had no idea this existed,” Martinez said. “When I found out I got it, I lost my words and I thought, ‘This is big!’ I’m very happy and very proud.”

Martinez was first inspired to explore the field of psychology while doing a high school internship.

“There were people with autism and other disabilities and it had an impact,” Martinez said. “I got to learn how nonprofits work, and that’s why I have a double major in Business.”

Martinez came to CSUCI from North Hollywood, following a path blazed by her older sister, Class of 2018 Psychology alumna Adriana Martinez, who was also an outstanding student.

For the past two years, Julie Martinez, a junior, has been doing research on positive psychology with Professor of Psychology Christy Teranishi-Martinez, Ph.D., who serves as faculty mentor for Martinez’s research group.

When Martinez enrolled in Teranishi-Martinez’s Psychological Research Design and Statistics class (Psy300/301), Martinez asked if she could be part of Teranishi-Martinez’s research group, even though she had not yet completed the foundational classes necessary to qualify for the research group.

“Although I typically do not admit students into my research group who have not completed Psy300/301, when Julie asked to join my research group, I was eager to see if she would follow in her sister’s footsteps,” Teranishi-Martinez said.

Teranishi-Martinez was not disappointed. Adriana’s younger sister seemed to love research and had a knack for it, especially with her work at Growing Works.

Run by the Turning Point Foundation, Growing Works is a nonprofit nursery where those with mental illness heal and develop vocational skills by tending the more than 300 varieties of flowers on nine acres of land in Camarillo.

“We got to meet the participants and talk to them and it opened my eyes about how we should take time in our days to have small hobbies,” Martinez said. “I saw how they went from the bottom and rose to the top with the help of nature.”

For the past two years, Martinez worked with the research team on the Growing Works project in conjunction with the Turning Point Foundation. She watched as individuals diagnosed with a variety of mental health conditions engaged in horticultural therapy and vocational training that could help set the trajectory for a happy, healthy life.

“Julie has contributed to reviewing the literature, transcribing interviews, and used scientific analysis to examine the extent to which nature has had an impact on happiness and well-being,” Teranishi-Martinez said. “I’m so proud to see Julie carry the torch to continue her sister’s legacy at CSUCI, engaging in collaborative action to seek long-term solutions for social issues.”

The research group plans to present their findings at the Western Psychological Association (WPA) convention in October, circumstances permitting—considering the COVID-19 situation.

As a Newman fellow, Martinez will be able to connect with a network of other Newman fellows across the nation who are also public problem solvers. The Newman Fellowship is offered by Campus Compact, a national coalition of 1,000+ colleges and universities committed to using the resources of higher education to promote civic education and community development.

The year-long program is named for Campus Compact founder Frank Newman and includes virtual learning opportunities and other resources to help fellows across the nation further their goals of creating a better tomorrow.

Back to Top ↑