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Congresswoman Robin Kelly

Representing the 2nd District of Illinois


Constituent Spotlight: Antoine Martin

Jun 20, 2014
Constituent Spotlight

How do you help millions of people at once? Corliss graduate aims to cure hereditary diseases

Corliss High School in Chicago may have just graduated the man who will one day find a cure for diabetes. 

Antoine Martin, who was recently named a Gates Millennium Scholar, will use his good-through-graduation scholarship to complete his education through medical school and achieve his dream of becoming a geneticist. Once he attains his goal, he could go on to play a role in preventing or curing such genetic-related disorders as depression, Parkinson’s, Muscular Dystrophy, Down Syndrome, or any number of illnesses with hereditary components.

“Becoming a geneticist gives me multiple ways to help people on a large scale,” Martin said of his career choice.

Martin said that his biology teacher, Ultra Vaughn, sparked his interest in genetics and made him “eager to learn more.”

According to Vaughn, she simply encouraged Martin’s natural curiosity.

“Antoine’s passion for science was fueled in grammar school, where he completed in-depth science projects,” Vaughn said. “Initially, as a freshman, Antoine wanted to study marine biology, but after participating in various engaging genetic projects, Antoine researched genetic diseases and became enthralled with the subject matter.  The genetics unit was the impetus leading his desire to study genetics and with the intent to attend medical school.”

Antoine also credits the teachers, staff members and administrators of Corliss High School for setting him on “a pathway to succeed.” During his years there, Antoine was encouraged to be a leader and excel in his studies. Whatever hallway corner he turned, help and encouragement were always at hand.

“I wasn’t big on reading. Several English teachers stayed with me on their own time to help me. Having those opportunities available empowered and motivated me to succeed. The principal was always willing to speak to students for any reason. There are definitely a lot of people at the school willing to help students if they are dealing with any issues. I was well supported by my teachers, my community and my fellow students.”

He reciprocated by helping underclassmen. 

“My job is to help anyone succeed in life. Every student in the hallway, I consider a family member who I try to help. I definitely see myself coming back to the school and speaking to freshmen and sophomores.”

He also attributes his academic success to his caring parents. 

My father explained the importance of education to me. I listened and I learned from him, so I dedicated myself to education. I could always talk to my mother and she helped me with assignments.”

During his high school years, Antoine became a student leader in CAMBRY, which stands for Calumet In My Backyard, an environmental science program that encourages students from the South Side of Chicago to improve natural sites. An honors student, Antoine was also active in Business Professionals of America, served as a senior class senator, participated on the debate team and played football and basketball. He plans to continue his active role in extracurricular groups in college.

“Anything that I can join, I will join. I want to better myself.”

Antoine will begin his academic career at Morehouse College, a choice inspired by Corey Hardiman, an alumnus of both Corliss and Morehouse.

“Cory was my mentor for several years and he was a big influence on my decision. I visited the (Morehouse) campus and liked the southern hospitality and the welcoming feeling,” Antoine said. “It was a change from growing up in Englewood.”

The application process for a Gates scholarship is difficult.  Antoine was required to compose eight 500-word essays with questions such as, “Discuss a leadership role that you have had and explain how those skills can transfer to the college level.” In one essay, Antoine wrote about the hardships of growing up in poverty, the burden of getting to and from school safely, and seeing his family struggle to put food on the table.

Fortunately, with a full scholarship, Antoine has one less thing to worry about as he works toward his goal of helping millions of people live longer, healthier lives.


Robin Kelly



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