Leslie Martinez next gen winner

Leslie S. Martinez

Leslie S. Martinez is the November winner in a new leadership program sponsored by the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce and the Columbus Young Professionals group. One young professional from the Columbus community is chosen each month of 2016 in the areas of life, community and work as someone who exemplifies leadership skills. Martinez was nominated in the “community” category. The Republic is introducing the winners each month through this column.

Age: 23

City of residence: Seymour

Family: Parents, Saul and Carmen Martinez; siblings, Chanel and Warren Martinez.

Education: 2011 Seymour Senior High Academic Honors graduate; 2013 graduate from Ivy Tech Community College, 2015 graduate of IUPUC, bachelor of business administration, with a concentration in marketing; Indiana State University, pursuing a master’s degree in Student Affairs and Higher Education.

Your job: I am an admissions counselor for Trine University, Columbus. I interact with prospective students to learn about what their passions are and what inspires them. Then I turn that into a college plan that will one day be their lifelong career. Another piece of my job is to improve the school’s visibility throughout the community. As a result I spend several hours a week participating in community events representing Trine University in Columbus and surrounding areas.

How many years have you worked in Columbus?

I live in Seymour, but I have always enjoyed spending time in Columbus. After graduating high school in 2011, I began my college career in Columbus by completing an associate degree at Ivy Tech Community College and then transferring to IUPUC. So for the past five-and-a-half years, I have been able to immerse myself in the Columbus community through my participation in student-led organizations at college as well as through my internship with the Columbus Municipal Airport.

What are your activities and interests in Columbus?

I am actively involved in Leadership Bartholomew County, where I am learning about more opportunities to be involved in Columbus. I enjoy attending and volunteering at community events like Aviation Day, which raises awareness for our Airpark and the unique programs that Columbus offers. Being involved is more than just a part of my job, it is what I enjoy doing.

What types of volunteer activities are you involved in?

Why were you attracted to those volunteer opportunities?: The volunteer opportunities that I have been involved in are all opportunities that have opened up to me through the educational institutions on the Airpark like Aviation Day, Ivy Tech Day of Service, Sans Souci, Horizon House, Angel Tree, and IUPUC’s “The Big Event.” These volunteer opportunities allow me to meet a diverse group of students with different interests and aspirations. As a recent graduate, I use my college experiences to identify with the struggles and the concerns students may have while volunteering their limited time to activities on campus.

The Columbus Young Professionals say you were nominated in the community category. Give us some examples of ways you lead in the Columbus community through your work and activities.

When I graduated high school I knew I wanted to plan events and make the lives of people brighter. I thought that the only way I could do this was by being an event coordinator. As president of Ivy Tech’s Campus Activities Board for four years, I helped other students get involved by doing college programming events. These ranged from dance formals to ski trips that enhanced the educational experience of all the students involved while providing a welcoming social environment. I then advised the same activities board during my time as the Student Life graduate assistant. There are many leadership development opportunities and I tried to point students to these programs. It has been great to see what passions students have and how it helps them in different ways depending on the student’s leadership position. As part of student government at both Ivy Tech and IUPUC, I was able to showcase the importance of being involved in college clubs and volunteering in community, (such as with) IUPUC’s “The Big Event,” which is a day that students gather together and go out into the community to volunteer at places like Horizon House, and even clean up the different People Trails throughout Columbus. Similarly, Ivy Tech has their “Ivy Tech Day of Service,” in which they volunteer at similar places as well as Sans Souci and Love Chapel. Now I get to continue to be a personal mentor and supporter of the students that have taken over the positions on the Campus Activities Board, and Student Government. At Trine University I serve as the admissions counselor to prospective students wanting to start their college career, transfer or return to school. Sometimes it can be hard for adults to come back to college, especially if they have been in the workforce for so long. They are afraid of being judged, or they are afraid that they won’t be able to handle the coursework along with their current job. I then become more of a mentor as well and explain how it is possible to have a work, school and home life balance. Being located inside Ivy Tech Community College’s building allows me to inspire and mentor other students who I may one day admit to Trine University. I have grown as a professional thanks to the leaders in Columbus. I want to pass this along and continue to serve as a mentor to students in the Columbus community.

If you could change Columbus in any way, what would that change be?

What I would change about Columbus is figuring out a way so that the age demographic that volunteers and sits on boards consists of younger people. This community is full of highly-talented millennials who are enthusiastic to have their voice heard. I believe that the representation of this demographic will be a positive influence so that Columbus can continue to be innovative and inspirational.

What do you think shouldn’t change about Columbus and why?

As a minority, what I love about Columbus is the diversity in which we live our daily lives. The way everyone comes together to put on family oriented events, fundraisers, and other community events makes Columbus unique and exciting. We are all very different but we join together for one purpose, and this by itself offers limitless opportunities to be involved and to help nurture and further grow the city.

When you talk about Columbus to those who don’t live here, how do you describe it?

When I tell others about Columbus I talk to them about the visual arts, architecture, music and engineering opportunities that it holds. I mention to them how people travel from around the world to see our architecture. Being immersed in Columbus life we tend to forget how extremely lucky we are to have a city like this. Columbus really is an incredibly unique city and those visiting really create unforgettable memories.

If someone asked you what they could do to help the community of Columbus, what would you advise them to do?

Getting involved in different events and organizations. Whether that is attending them, volunteering or even planning them. You will meet a diverse group of people that have the same or even different interests. Being a part of Columbus means being a part of something great. Just about anyone is willing to help you get involved, but the first step is to ask. Joining the Columbus Young Professionals has led me to learn about different not-for-profits organizations in Columbus as well as meeting many leaders within the different businesses and organizations.