Jill Martens, an inspirational young woman from Boissevain, Manitoba, is the proud recipient of the Atsede Hobbs "Living out Loud" Rick Hansen Difference Maker Scholarship for 2014. This outstanding 18-year old difference maker has touched the lives of countless people, both at home and abroad.
Volunteering in her community
Jill devotes herself heavily to volunteer work in her community. She is the Student Government Public Affairs minister and she continuously dedicates herself to various causes. This year, she chose to focus her fundraising efforts on a Free the Children project which consisted of raising funds to buy bricks to build a school in a developing country. In addition, she organized the annual Halloween food drive as well as many other fundraisers.
Humanitarian work overseas
A courageous visionary, Jill does not let geographical boundaries limit the reach of her humanitarian work. In the summer of 2014 she took her knowledge of agriculture and farming to India where she joined efforts with other young people who aspire to be difference makers in the world. Chosen from a large pool of candidates, Jill and her colleagues focused on food security and on improving agriculture in rural areas. A leader in every sense of the word, Jill has insight and long-term vision. In addition to providing immediate aid to people who are starving, it is important "to find a long-term solution as to how they can grow their own food," she says.
Last year, she travelled with her youth group to Tijuana, Mexico, where she ran a children's program, handed out food to homeless people, and built a home in the community. "This was a time for me when I realized how easy life is in Canada," she explains. While she feels blessed to have had that experience, there is no doubt that she has left a deep mark of gratitude and appreciation in the hearts of the people of Tijuana.
Tolerance and acceptance of differences
Despite her young age, Jill displays a high level of maturity and gratitude for the blessings that she been endowed with. She says that she has been challenged to become more open-minded and comfortable with others' opinions and feelings. She has learned to be more tolerant and accepting of differences, recognizing that each person brings their unique gifts and contributions to the world.
Jill attributes her humanitarian demeanor to always being supported by kindness and love. Her sisters paved the way for her, as they have all committed to using their lives towards making a difference. Jill also has a strong community within her church and school. Throughout the struggles of coming into her own character she always noticed people who did not have the resources or social structure she had. Jill says "I am motivated to be generous and try to help those who don't have as much as I do." She plans on earning a degree in a field related either to food science or geriatrics. She asserts that a career in helping people will be very fulfilling for her.
The Atsede Hobbs "Living Out Loud" Rick Hansen Difference Maker Scholarship
The Atsede Hobbs "Living Out Loud" Rick Hansen Difference Maker Scholarship was created by Shelley Hobbs in honour of her daughter, who passed away during a tragic accident two years ago. "Atsede had courage to be exactly who she was without apology. She was authentic and believed in using her own gifts and talents to follow her dreams," Shelley says of her daughter. Atsede was heavily influenced by Rick Hansen and meeting him furthered her goal of wanting to be a better person and to help people in her community and country. Shelley looks for a graduating student who embodies the qualities of Atsede: leadership, initiative, kindness, and living in the realm of possibilities. In addition, she looks for a student who has overcome personal struggles, and who has demonstrated perseverance and commitment to making their local and global community a better place. There is no doubt that Jill exemplifies Atsede's qualities and that she does not fail to "Live out Loud"!
The Rick Hansen Foundation School Program would like to congratulate Jill on receiving this year's Atsede Hobbs "Living out loud" Rick Hansen Difference Maker Scholarship. We look forward to seeing the difference she will make with her commitment and determination to make the world a better place for all.