As a first-generation college student, Tavin Martin ’25 faced a lack of knowledge and resources when it came to applying to college.
A high-achieving student, she knew she was headed toward higher education, but neither of her parents had been through the college application process. Though her older brother went to college, he went to a local college and the process was a bit different from the one Martin faced as she considered the schools she wanted to attend.
“Even when I brought the Common App up to my [high school] counselors, they didn't know what it was. So, it wasn't even just a lack of knowledge on my part. It was a total lack of knowledge within my public school sector about what it looks like to apply to college,” says Martin.
Martin found expertise in videos on YouTube and through talking to upperclassmen she knew about applying to college.
“That’s difficult and scary because other people are applying with years of experience and knowledge that’s just passed down generationally. So you feel like you’re behind from the start,” says Martin.
One thing that encouraged Martin throughout the process was her own passion. “I knew that I had passion and wanted to earn a degree. I wanted to even go beyond college and serve other communities. And that’s kind of what pushed me and what motivated me forward,” she says.
When a friend of hers from the YMCA Youth and Government Program suggested she apply to Notre Dame, Martin says she knew little about the University other than that it was Catholic. But her friend pointed to the global affairs major through the Keough School of Global Affairs and Martin saw that it suited her interests.
Just a couple of years later, Martin is now a sophomore at Notre Dame. She is majoring in global affairs and Latino studies with a minor in education, schooling, and society. Always active civically, Martin has also joined the student government. She currently serves as director of the Department of Diversity and Inclusion, First Generation Low Income Division. She and a department of 12 students work to create campus initiatives and programming for first-generation and low-income students “to help their adjustment at college and help build the community,” says Martin.
As a first-year student, Martin joined a program called FUEL, First Undergraduate Experience in Leadership, a mentorship program for first-year students interested in being involved with student government.
In addition, Martin is a Kellogg International Scholar and works as a research assistant to Professor Jaimie Bleck in the political science department, studying how youth community discussion groups in rural areas on the African continent can encourage civic engagement and political participation.
Martin is also a God and the Good Life Fellow for the course God and the Good Life, a popular College of Arts and Letters philosophy course. As a dialogue leader, Martin helps facilitate student discussion on course topics.
Through her academic journey and her various involvements, Martin says her goal has been to grow as a leader.
“I know it sounds cliché, but I want to grow myself, not just as a leader, but as an empathetic leader…I’m very much a get-it-done kind of person, but I want to be that in an empathetic way,” she says.
Watch the video above to learn more about Tavin Martin and her Notre Dame experience.