2021 Tillman Scholar

Shelina Warren-Martin

Johns Hopkins University

“I educate my students to use their knowledge for change, validate them by instilling a sense of love and recognition, and I empower them to get in good trouble.”

Shelina enlisted in the United States Army Reserves at the wee age of 17, after getting the permission of her parents. She wanted to follow in the footsteps of her maternal grandfather, who was a Buffalo Soldier in World War II. The military taught her leadership, selfless service, and teamwork. She trained as a 91E, dental specialist, and ended up earning two awards during her service — the Army Humanitarian Medal and Army Commendation Medal when providing support after Hurricane Andrew while in Guatemala.

Her service coincided with her degree plan as a teacher, as she trained as a soldier during the weekend but lived those Army core values and planned to use them in her very own classroom. She had always wanted to be a teacher and now the Army was helping her ensure this dream would become reality. Upon graduating college at 23 and taking her first teaching job, she crafted her classroom, teaching style, and her tenacity around the skills she learned in the military.

As a result, many of her students joined the military via ROTC or enlisting after high school. She has made an impact on her community. She now lives in Washington, D.C., where she is a high school teacher and academy director of a law and public policy academy. She teaches inner city youth how to use their voice and actions for the betterment of their community. She is their biggest advocate and works hard to expose them to people, places, and things that will benefit them most.