Darien Martin is focused on giving back to others through her extensive community service activities and future career ambitions.
The Carlisle County High School senior spends much of her time inside and outside the school helping others, either tutoring classmates in English, helping to organize service activities or taking on leadership roles in several different school clubs.
"There are times everyone can use some help," she said. "Once you have a taste for what that's like, you just want to help others in any way possible."
Martin, daughter of Jami Mitchell and Michael Martin, is the Mid-Continent University Teen of the Week. Each Monday, the Sun features a different MCU Teen of the Week selected from nominees guidance counselors throughout western Kentucky and southern Illinois submitted to the Sun. Mid-Continent University will provide each Teen of the Week with a $2,500 annual scholarship to its university, which is renewable for four years.
In the spring, a Teen of the Year will be chosen from the weekly winners. The Teen of the Year is eligible for a full four-year scholarship to Mid-Continent University or a cash award of $2,500, paid through the Paducah Sun, if the student selects another college to attend.
The Carlisle County native has been an active member of the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America and Future Farmers of America clubs. She currently serves as the president of FCCLA and secretary of FFA and held leadership roles in both groups before her senior year. Martin has also been a member of the student council, the Arts Guild and the Beta Club.
She values service to the region that her family has called home for generations. Through FCCLA, Martin has participated in blood drives, clean-up projects, nutritional programs and food drives, fundraising for animal shelters, visits to assisted living facilities and programs that help provide holiday gifts for children in need.
Martin said she enjoys taking on leadership roles because of her organizational and time management skills. Teachers at Carlisle County High School consistently describe the hard working student as responsible and mature. Along with her academic accolades and busy schedule of club participation, she also works part time in the office of Bean Farms, a Carlisle County farm.
"I've enjoyed being a leader and taking charge," she said. "When teachers ask me to do something, they know the job will get done."
The 4.0 grade-point average student who ranks first in her class lists her favorite subjects as English and history because of her deep-rooted love of reading. Her favorite genres are fiction, historical texts and horror. Martin said her mother helped foster her interest in the written word by reading to her at a young age. Martin scored in the 99th percentile nationwide on the reading section of the American College Testing evaluation.
"I'm pretty good at it (reading) and it comes naturally to me so I've just kept reading and reading," Martin said.
She lists one of her favorite high school moments as winning the Class of Kentucky 2012 Award, which she received her sophomore year. It recognizes a high grade-point average and being an active member of one's school community. Martin is also the recipient of countless other academic awards in district Governor's Cup and FFA scholastic competitions.
Martin was selected to participate in the Commonwealth Honors Academy, a three-week program that allows high school students to take classes and experience the college lifestyle, last summer at Murray State University.
"It's (CHA) the coolest thing that I've been a part of," she said. "I met lots of different people from different backgrounds and saw so many diverse ways of thinking."
She said not only did she meet many new friends but the experience showed her a valuable perspective on how college life will be and solidified her choice of Murray State University for her next step.
"It taught me a whole lot about the college experience and how much I want to go to Murray," she said.
Martin plans to major in middle school education, with concentrations in English and social studies. She said her interest in teaching began while babysitting and has always been specifically focused on instructing middle school-age children.
"I'm sad to leave my family but I think CHA prepared me well to be away from home," she said. "I'm not nervous, I'm definitely ready."
Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.
Teen of the Week
n Nominations are accepted only from guidance counselors.
n If you are interested in the scholarship program, contact your guidance counselor.
n Nominations are reviewed by The Paducah Sun.
n For questions contact Kendra Mitchell at 270-575-8625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.