Jerria Martin was the first African American female to be elected Student Government Association President at Princeton Theological Seminary this past Spring. She plans to take all of her knowledge of leadership and apply it towards ending poverty in her hometown of Selma. Martin is pairing with the Black Belt Community Foundation and the Mayor’s office to help write porgramming.

A new leader in town

Published 11:35pm Tuesday, June 19, 2012

There is one young lady in Selma this summer who plans to combine her love for service and her knowledge of leadership in order to make Selma, Dallas County and the Black Belt a better place.

Jerria Martin, a Selma native born and raised, is returning to Selma this summer after being elected the first African American female Student Government Association President for Princeton Theological Seminary. The student elections held this April were a close run, giving Martin the win by only 100 or so votes.

“I think it’s all about being able to serve and I’m a big gal for service,” Martin said. “And I thought it would be opportunity for me to serve at Princeton and with Princeton our curriculum is so strenuous that SGA members don’t have time to fully commit to SGA but I’ve taken all my required courses and so I really do want to spend the bulk of my time really focusing on SGA.”

Martin said that her position at Princeton connects back to her love and heart for what she wants to do in Selma because she wants to fully dedicate her time to serving. Martin graduated from Selma High School as valedictorian in 2006 and since then has risen to volunteer for many different things. As a fellow in her seminary program Martin has done mission work abroad in Israel and almost took an internship in Rwanda this summer until she heard about the state of the Black Belt.

“Just hearing about the state of the black belt and especially Dallas County the county where I’m from just the poverty is crazy and this countries in Africa that I could have been interning with have the same problems as here,” Martin said.

“It made me sad in my heart to hear about the poverty here in my hometown.”

This summer she is serving as a board of trustee member for the Black Belt Community Foundation writing curriculum that will be implemented in the fall. The programming, Martin hopes, will knock out poverty one-step at a time.

“I’m not looking for change — change is something that is temporary,” Martin said. “I’m looking for a transformation and that will be one step at a time and a slow process.”

She said that one community event can get people excited and maybe change a few things but for a long-term transformation she believes programming is the key.

“I think that young people should be educated and so that’s why I’m designing programming that the foundation can implement— so that it can educate and empower those youths and other members of the community to show them that they can be the change they want to see in the community,” Martin said.

Martin seems to be everywhere in Selma this summer— working for the Black Belt Community Foundation, working in conjunction with Mayor Evans and former Mayor Perkins and senators and congress people to help design programs and she can even be found at a local church serving young people for her seminary internship.

“I’m hoping right now to just follow god for what he has planned,” Martin said.

“I’m looking to be ordained in august and so I could be pastor of a church so really the sky is the limit.”

Martin has many dreams and aspirations and she said that one day she might even want to run for mayor of Selma.

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