BIO: Ashanti Martinez is a High School Senior, an International Baccalaureate Programme Diploma Candidate, Member of Young Dems of Maryland, Young Dems of Prince George’s County, and proud Student Advocate at Parkdale High School in Riverdale, Maryland. At the 2013 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference, he was on a Youth Panel discussing the importance of Black Leadership. Because of the lack of LGBTQ leadership in Prince George’s County, he created the LGBTQ Student Liaison for the Prince George’s County Regional Association of Student Governments (PGRASG). His service extents broader than his local community, in 2012 he spent the summer in Panama providing service to the less fortunate. Ashanti is currently nominated for The Prince George’s Harlem Remembrance Foundation L.O.V.E. Award. During his free time, he enjoys the company of friends and family. In Fall 2014, he be will attending Howard University majoring in Political Science.
Define leader? A Leader is someone who is consistently serving other before serving themselves. Dedicating their life advocating for others. That’s a leader Where do you draw your inspiration from? My inspiration comes from the people all around me. Talking to students, learning about their stories and what they overcome on a daily basis inspires me. Listening to their concerns and issues is what inspires me. Understanding that my generation is the future of this Nation is what inspires me every day to make a difference.
What inspired you to be a leader? Since I was a kid, I’ve always exhibited leadership qualities. Just knowing that I can make a difference in the lives of others keeps me going and makes me thrive to do more.
Why is what you do important? I feel like I am the voice of the people. Being a Leader is a major responsibility and I take it all with pride.
What do you think is the most important tool for a student leader? Leaning how to simply listen has been the most important tool through my years in student leadership. Having the ability to verbally communicate is wonderful, but if you can’t listen to the concerns and problems brought to you by the people you serve then you can’t effectively lead. Listening is a key piece in communication that many people forgot about.
What advice do you have for someone that wants to be a student leader? Don’t be afraid to fail. Often times our leaders are consumed with getting everything right. Reality is that your human and make mistakes. Failure is a part of life, the more you run from it the more you’ll encounter it. Embrace being human and understand that being a Leader doesn’t make you any better than the ‘next guy’.
What is an interesting fact about you? By looking at me you wouldn’t be able to detect my Hispanic background. Through my biological father, I’m Puerto Rican. Though I don’t embrace my heritage as much as I should, it’s still very important to me. Family is #1 in my book.
Where are you from / Where do you live? I am a proud Marylander living in New Carrollton, MD. New Carrollton is a quiet suburban city, but close enough to DC where it isn’t a hassle getting there.
Who is your favorite leader? This might sound cheesy but my favorite leader is my Mom. Her ability to run a household, work a full-time job, cook dinner, keep fit, and stay sane inspires me. I appreciate the sacrifices her and my Dad have made for me. Being a devoted parent is the greatest leadership role anyone can take on.
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? In 5 years I see myself having graduated from college and now on my way to law school or maybe running for public office. We’ll have to see where these next four years at college take me.