Local high school junior awarded $2.5K to pursue dream of studying abroad
Katie Martin, a junior at Battle Mountain High School and one of 13 siblings, was the recipient of the Aaron Redd Award
Being one of 13 siblings, Katie Martin hardly ever gets to do anything for, or by, herself. Which is why, when the Battle Mountain High School junior first dreamed of studying abroad, it was something she knew she had to make happen.
“I feel stuck in this small valley,” Martin said. “As a young person, I think it’s really important for kids to explore the world by themselves and experience how the world really is.”
After her initial plans to study abroad last fall in the United Kingdom were derailed by the pandemic, Martin will now be going on a 16-day study abroad program with EF Go Ahead Tours to Athens and Ancient Greece. In order to make her dreams become reality, Martin applied for, and was ultimately awarded, a $2,500 Aaron Redd Award scholarship from the Aaron Redd Foundation.
The Aaron Redd Foundation was formed in 2018 to honor the legacy of its namesake. Redd was a Coast Guard recruit who passed away in training. According to his cousin, Emily Gavagan, Redd had drive and was willing to face adversity in order to achieve his dreams. Gavagan also serves as a member of the Foundation’s board of directors and committee chair for the Aaron Redd Award.
The scholarship award was formed last year for people who are pursuing professional or academic development and have ties to the Coast Guard, Gavagan said. In its second year, the foundation awarded two $2,500 scholarships: one to an active duty Coast Guardsman and one to Martin, who is the dependent of a coast guardsman.
“Katie Martin absolutely has passionate drive,” Gavagan said. “It was just her ability and willingness to face adversity and to not take no for an answer when it comes to carving out a path for herself in life.”
With a GPA over 4.0 and a passion for outdoor sports including lacrosse, mountain biking and skiing, Martin may seem like a typical Eagle County teenager. However, her family life brought on certain challenges from a young age, all of which she has sought to learn from.
Martin’s father has been in the Coast Guard since she was in third grade. At that time, Martin and her older sister played a large role in helping her mom care for her triplet siblings — born when she was 4.
“From when he joined, he was always traveling and so it made me and my older sister very helpful around the house and very mature, very quickly,” Martin said. “We grew up faster than most kids our age.”
Her parents later divorced and remarried, leading to the addition of eight more siblings to her family. The lessons learned from having such a large family gave Martin the drive to forge a path of self-reliance. Studying abroad, she said, offers her the perfect opportunity to explore and experience things outside her comfort zone.
“Having so many siblings, the idea of getting away from my family and being on my own and being independent was super appealing,” Martin said. “It will be my first time traveling out of the country, so I hope to gain a more worldly view and a greater understanding of what life is like outside of the U.S. and become more independent and confident with myself.”
In addition to learning about Greek history and culture, Martin hopes her experience on the trip can help her reach future career goals.
“I definitely want a job that takes me all over the world,” Martin said. “I’ve always been interested in a CIA job or FBI. And for jobs like that, when looking at applicants, they pay attention to people who have traveled all over the world and seen it already.”
The Aaron Redd scholarship only helped fund a part of Martin’s way to this dream. The rest, aside from some donations from her dad and other family members, will come directly from Martin and her job at Venture Sports. In an effort to bridge the gap and eliminate the need for Martin to dip into her college savings, Martin has created a GoFundMe page.
To learn more about Martin and donate to her trip, visit gofund.me/5a792837.
Reporter Ali Longwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.