Pine Ridge Student Named Truman Scholar

Jun 4, 2015

Oglala Sioux tribal member Keith Martinez is one of only 58 recipients of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship.
Credit Courtesy CinMag Photography
A Villanova University junior who hails from the Pine Ridge Reservation has been selected as one of 58 recipients of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship. The accolade is the latest in a string of scholarships that have helped the young Oglala Sioux tribal member pursue his educational goals.

It was dedication and hard work that helped Keith Martinez do well at Little Wound School. His efforts eventually caught the attention of one of his teachers, who suggested Keith apply for the STEP program…an intensive college preparatory curriculum for talented youth that accepts one student each year.

Truman Scholar Keith Martinez (20) was a 3-sport athlete at Syracuse High School in Syracuse, N.Y.
Credit Courtesy Keith Martinez

Recognized by STEP, Keith relocated to a host family in New York where he attended Scarsdale High School and then Villanova University. Along the way he picked up a Gates Millennium Scholarship and a Presidential Scholarship from Villanova. At the close of his junior year, Keith has now learned that he’s one of a select few to become a Truman Scholar.

Keith Martinez credits his success to his parents. He adds that having a strong support system is vital to youth everywhere, but especially on a reservation.

“Whenever I feel like that support is gone…then I talk to one of them,” explains Keith, “and they keep me going. I think that’s the thing that a lot of youth lack…just in general on the reservation. And that causes all potential to be lost.” 

The absence of that support system, Keith believes, is what causes all potential to be lost for many youth.

Keith Martinez is currently studying Communications and Public Relations. The $30,000 from the Truman Scholarship will help pay for graduate studies in public policy.

Keith’s ultimate goal is to return to Pine Ridge and change public policy in order to improve the lives of his people. 

Complete interview with Keith Martinez: