By Madison Martin |

Ever since I can remember, my family has always stressed the importance of education. The focus on academics eventually lead to generations of my family witnessing the fruits of their labor by becoming Baylor legacies. 

My grandfather, Kenneth Martin, was the first to install this drive for success through the pursuit of higher education. He grew up in Bonton, a neighborhood in Dallas, that gained its name from a history of repeatedly being bombed to drive out African Americans. For most of his childhood, he experienced horrific events involving drugs, racial injustices, and even death. Instead of letting his surroundings influence him, he went on to pursue his degree at Navarro College and continued his academics at Baylor, where he earned his doctorate in community college education. 

Not long after, he became the first African-American president of Ellis County Campuses for Navarro College. Because Baylor provided an avenue for him to expand his career, he was able to be qualified for such a high position. More than anything, he admired the compassion and devotion Baylor put into helping students achieve their goals. 

In fact, my grandfather viewed education as the key to unlocking success in life. He then passed down the idea to my mother, who soon found herself at Baylor as well, but not before a major change came into her life: having me.

My mom told me the story of attending Oklahoma University in the fall, filled with unbelievable fear that soon turned into a plethora of love when finding out she was pregnant. When she returned home, I was born in the summer as she continued earning credit at a local community college. Then my mom went on to finish her last two years at Baylor to earn her bachelor’s degree in journalism.  

Through the eyes of a two-year-old, I saw the Baylor campus and watched my mother continue her education as being a full-time student and single mother. 

Though she faced many challenges while raising me and finishing school, she never received any judgment at Baylor. My mom saw the Baylor administration and staff as extremely compassionate when it came down to students. My mom would tell me stories of her professors watching me as she took her exams or her sorority sisters devoting some of their time to help take care of me. She surrounded herself with positive and uplifting spirits who genuinely supported her through thick and thin. 

It was at this university that she built lifelong relationships that helped shape her into the woman she is today — a person who has shown me what it means to have perseverance, dedication, but most importantly, love. It is because of this that I find myself at Baylor now. A place that’s mission is centered on molding young adults into academic scholars who will enrich their community, well after graduating. 

“If they can do it, so can you,” said my grandfather.

These words instilled academic rigor and grit as core strengths built into our bloodline. Both my mother and grandfather have overcome the odds through hardwork and dedication to pursue their aspirations. They lead as examples for me to align myself academically, enrich the community, and continue to develop as an individual who will extend these efforts beyond my four years at Baylor and pour into the betterment of society.