Abigail Martin was a tiny newborn, several weeks premature and so small that I worried I might break her when I held her. She had to wear glasses when she was only a few months old and had enough trouble moving that she needed a physical therapist to help her turn over from her back. From day one she was a fighter, a determined child unwilling to allow any roadblocks to get in the way of meeting each of her childhood milestones. There was nothing that she was unwilling to try and in most cases become incredibly successful at doing.
Abby was adventurous, taking risks and working hard to be her best with each attempted endeavor. Once she learned how to swim she joined a competitive team even though her age and her diminutive size did not coincide with the taller and stronger girls with whom she competed. When she later joined a theater group she ended up with major roles in plays and musicals along with spots on television and in commercials. She was a natural born artist who won prize after prize with her drawings and paintings and other works of visual art. She even took riding lessons, boldly sitting atop a horse that loomed large next to her tiny frame. Eventually she learned how to judge horses and won ribbons for accurately noting both the perfections and defects of the animals and their riders.
Abby expanded her innate love of animals by raising goats and working for veterinarians during summers and spring breaks. She studied and took tests to earn a vet tech certification along the way. While exploring so many different interests Abby even learned to play the clarinet but realized her speaking and leadership abilities were the talents she most enjoyed. She regularly won speech competitions at both the local and state level, gaining confidence that allowed her to interact with both adults and her peers. Eventually she held offices in her school and regional chapters of the Future Farmers of America, including one in which she directed the activities of over nine thousand young members. She even represented her school at Girl’s State during the height of the pandemic.
All the while Abby was an exemplary student who will graduate number five in her class of almost eight hundred students, the only female in the top five. She took virtually every advanced placement class that she could and challenged herself even when her counselors cautioned her to take an easier course load. She was a dependable anchor on the school’s robotics team serving as the spokesperson for the group during competitions and taking them to championship status with her composed ability to field questions about their methodologies. Somehow she managed to keep up with all of her responsibilities and give each of them the kind of personal attention that they required.
Abby is a whirlwind of activity, a cyclone of energy who never seems to rest, and she dreams large. Along the way she decided to major in political science and law studies at Bowdoin College in Maine with an eye to one day entering law school and specializing in agricultural issues. Bowdoin is one of the oldest universities in the United States and is often called a “Little Ivy.” Notable graduates from Bowdoin are Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth, Joshua Chamberlain and President Franklin Pierce. I suspect that one day Abigail Martin will be one of the honored alumnae as well.
I remember a time when Abby came to visit my husband and me during her spring break. We were taking a class on the history of Greece at the time and took her with us to Rice University on the day of the lecture. We asked the professor if she might sit quietly with us and he pleasantly agreed after warning us that he might mention some sensitive topics. We sat in the back of the room and gave Abby a little notebook and a pencil to take notes or draw during the hour and a half lesson. As it happened much of the time was spent talking about Greek mythology. Abby drew pictures of the gods and labeled each of them with notes from the professor. When he saw what she had done at the end of the session he commented that even some of his students were not as attentive or adept at note taking as little ten year old Abby was. He remarked that he hoped that one day she would apply to the university and perhaps also become one of his students.
Later that week when we met her parents to camp at a state park she was still creating more organized notes on the topic of the lecture in the little book that we had given her. She sat for hours making an outline of what she had heard and telling her family all about what she had learned. I knew then for certain that she was going to be quite successful and interesting in her approach to life.
The tiny girl who was too small for her car seat without rolled up blankets on either side and who worked tirelessly just to become strong enough to turn over from her back has fought her whole life to be her best. Now she is a young woman who continues to dream of one day becoming an intern for a Congressperson in Washington D.C. and maybe even being a lawmaker there in her own right. She has already proven that she is not afraid of hard work and that she has the intellect to master virtually any topic. She is on her way to taking the future by the tail with a rare determination that will make her unstoppable. I am certain that she will be force for good with a passion for integrity. I can’t wait to witness her rise. Abigail Martin is going to positively change the world.