Stephanie Martin of Richmond Community High School
By Janeal Downs
Among her many interests, help Stephanie Martin hopes to make a difference in the future by tackling childhood obesity. Martin knows what it is like to struggle with obesity because she had to struggle through it as a child. She was encouraged to change her lifestyle because she could not do what other children could because she would easily tire. She also did not want to do things from fear that people would talk about her. “I don’t want a child to go through self esteem issues like I did when I was in elementary school and going into middle school, generic ” Martin said. For anyone going through what she did, Martin advises people to “know your self-worth, or find your self-worth.”
In order to make a difference and combat childhood obesity, Martin’s ultimate goal is to start a non-profit organization. “I feel like that’s my element because I want to work with children anyway,” Martin said. She currently gets experience working with children by serving as a mentor for a first grader. As a member of the Girl Scouts, she also had opportunities to work with girls younger than her during a camping trip. That experience helped her build both communication and leadership skills. Another way Martin has been able to give back was by volunteering at the Children’s Museum, the Northside Family YMCA, and by serving as the president of the Key Club at her school. She is also a member of her church’s choir and usher board.
While she is currently building experience for her future profession, Martin’s next step is going to college to major in health and wellness and minor in business. She also wants to find a way to incorporate her interest in children. Martin’s top choice for college is Old Dominion University in Norfolk. She said ODU was one of only a few schools where she felt at home and like she belonged.
Although Martin stays busy with school, where she currently has a 4.28 GPA, some of her favorite activities outside of school include seeing and traveling to new places, spending time with her friends, and listening to spoken word. “I’m not really a visual person, I like to hear things,” Martin said. “I just like the way spoken word sounds and how you can get something off your chest if you’re feeling bad.” In the past she has learned to be confident by performing a poem through the Mayor’s Youth Academy Life Stage Program. She hopes to continue and one day perform her own spoken word poem.
There are many people and programs that have influenced her in life, but her mother is one of her greatest influences because she supports her in anything she does and is always pushing her. “I used to be scared about scholarships and I was applying to a lot,” Martin said. “She was telling me you’re going to get it, you’re going to get it. Just think positive and if you don’t get it then there’s other opportunities.” With encouragement from her mother and others, Martin hopes to one day be an influence through her non-profit. She also admires Michelle Obama for continuously addressing childhood obesity.
In an essay, Martin quoted Malcolm X who once said, “the future belongs to those who prepare for it today.” These are words Martin lives by everyday as she continues to be strong and driven in order to accomplish her goals of fighting against childhood obesity.