Senior Kenyari Martin is a nutrition major who was born and raised in Hope, Arkansas, where he lived with his parents and sibling.
“Hope is a small town, and the only reason people know it is because it’s the hometown of former U.S. president Bill Clinton,” Martin said.
Martin said growing up was tough because he didn’t have a good friend until he was 19 years old, and he didn’t listen to music until he was 14.
“I didn’t know I had access to a lot of those things because I lacked social exposure outside of school,” Martin said. “I used to like playing video games and sports as a kid, but I had no one to play with.”
Martin said many of his peers and teachers antagonized him.
“I was called ‘nigger’ and ‘monkey’ by my peers at times,” Martin said. “As a 17 to 18 year old, I experienced racism with my math teacher during my senior year in high school. He made fun of me, and he called me slow, dubbed me with the name ‘turtle’ and said I will never be successful in front of the class.”
Martin said he struggled because the seizures he would have caused his memory to decline.
“It was difficult. I could only study trigonometry for about 2 minutes before I’d become lethargic and acquire a headache, but I was driven to do better because of what [my math teacher]said to me that day,” Martin said. “Eventually, those 2 minutes became 5 minutes of studying. Then, those 5 became 15 minutes, then 30, then an hour. Then, it got to a point where I could study about 7 hours straight. I gained my intelligence and memory back. I wasn’t confused anymore, and I went from making Fs to making As on every quiz and test he gave out.”
Although Martin started college as a nutrition major, he changed his major seven times before finally settling on nutrition again.
“I was young, and I didn’t know what do because I wasn’t trusting in God and I was basing everything off making money, but then I realized that there are rich people who have committed suicide. Just because you have money doesn’t mean your problems will go away,” Martin said.
He is currently involved in the Student Dietetic Association, an organization that provides nutritional information to the public through community service activities.
He is also involved in the campus ministry, Christian Student Fellowship.
“I like to minister the word of God to people because it not only helps people out, but it helps me out because when I am spiritually drained it doesn’t feel too good,” Martin said.
Martin hopes to graduate in May 2018 and work for a nonprofit organization.