Lexi Martins’ graduation cap flew high into the sky Monday, one of the 1,758 making up a sea of brown that filled the air of Goodman Stadium.
Not many of those receiving their Lehigh diplomas on stage had finished up their undergraduate degree in just three years.
Even fewer were able to accelerate while completing both a major and a minor.
But to do so with a 3.62 GPA while simultaneously averaging 11.4 points and 9.6 rebounds for a Division I program? It’s almost unheard of.
Though Martins is most known for her contributions to the Lehigh women’s basketball team, her ability to balance athletics and academics has been the theme song of her career as a Mountain Hawk and will continue to guide her as she moves on.
The first stop on that quest will be at George Washington University.
After graduating from Lehigh with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in health, medicine and society, Martins will be pursuing a master’s at George Washington in health administration and management.
For her, the decision to leave Bethlehem behind came down to finding the right fit.
“I spent some time looking at different masters programs at Lehigh, but it didn’t seem like anything quite matched up to exactly what I wanted to be doing,” Martins said.
Once she decided to look elsewhere, the process began by sending her release to basketball coaches around the nation. This advantage was made possible by the fact that she finished her degree in three years, leaving her one year left in athletic eligibility wherever she would end up.
Lehigh Athletics’ Taryn Gall, the associate director for compliance and administration, was instrumental in getting the information out to programs that Martins was looking at schools, making it easier on Martins herself.
Then all she had to do was wait to be contacted.
After entertaining different offers, it came down to a choice between University of Florida, George Mason University, Seton Hall University and of course, George Washington. Eventually, after talking with newly named George Washington coach Jennifer Rozatti and looking closer at the highly ranked health administration and management program that she would be enrolling in, Martins decided it was the best fit for her.
“It got a bit overwhelming when it came down to make the decision, but it’s very different going through the recruitment process graduating from college compared to doing it while in high school,” Martins said. “You’re much more mature, you know what you’re looking for.”
On the court, she will be filling in her familiar role as a forward, but this time she’ll be wearing blue and buff, the colors of her new team in the nation’s capital.
Martins will look to add to a program that had a successful 2015-16 campaign. The Colonials finished 26-7 and took the Atlantic 10 Championship en route to a first round loss in the NCAA Tournament.
Just as George Washington was a good fit for Martins, its basketball team will look for her to fit into a top rebounding role after graduating Jonquel Jones, who averaged a nation-high 14.6 boards per game in her senior year. Martins was third in the nation, averaging 13.6 in her final year at Lehigh as a junior.
She will not move on from the Lehigh Athletics program without leaving her mark, after she set the school single-season record for rebounds and finished with more than 1,000 career points.
While she said she will miss her classmates on the basketball team most as they return for their senior year without Martins, she knows this will not be the end of those friendships.
“I’m really excited to take the next step with my life, but looking back I’m going to miss the team and the camaraderie of that,” Martins said. “It’s a bittersweet feeling.”