Michael Martins didn’t know how to play the piano when he first arrived at UAF, but an old out-of-tune instrument in Bartlett Hall intrigued him. Things snowballed from there.
“I never thought I’d be able to play, because it’s such an artistic thing, and I’m a mathematical guy,” he said.
Deciding he would teach himself, he moved to the residence hall and started a GoFundMe campaign for money to tune and maintain the piano. He set out a tip jar for the same purpose.
After hearing about his effort, several Fairbanks residents donated their used pianos to UAF. Martins helped organize their installations in Wood Center, Hess Recreation Center and McIntosh Hall.
He then started looking for a way to ship two more donated pianos to rural UAF campuses off Alaska’s road system.
The piano project reflects just one of Martins’ diverse interests. He majors in math, but he enjoys working on UAF’s scientific research projects in his spare time.
At an East Coast college closer to his hometown of Westport, Connecticut, he said, competition would have been tough for the kind of “best-in-the-nation” research opportunities available at UAF.
“There’s so much support, and it’s literally there for anybody,” he said.
Martins led a volunteer crew of students to the Virgin Islands during spring break to repair hurricane damage. He has also learned French while at UAF.
This cornucopia of artistic and analytical experiences in college has provoked a new philosophy.
“Creativity and intelligence, it’s all the same,” he said.