AnMarie Martin, a Hall County sheriff's deputy, was this year's Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation keynote speaker. 6

AnMarie Martin at Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation

Jan 15, 2015
Brenau Staff

AnMarie Martin, a Hall Country sheriff’s deputy, advised the Brenau Women’s College student body “not to lose their humanity in the process” of finding their career.

In her keynote address for the university’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in Pearce Auditorium on the Gainesville campus Jan. 15, Deputy Martin led the audience through the emotional story of surviving an abusive childhood, leaving a lucrative corporate job in order to find her true calling in serving others and facing the trials of achieving her goals and passions. She received a standing ovation from the students and professors for her powerful message about finding humanity along one’s path in life, and “an act of kindness can forever stand the test of time.”

Her encounter and connection with a police officer at age eleven inspired her to pursue her career in law enforcement, as she wanted to be a protector for others as he was a protector for her.

“Being a minority, I still see division and confront racism every day, but we cannot let hate take over,” said Martin. “It’s not easy to just walk away from that. But when you dare to be yourself, when you find your path, humanity has to be a part of it.”

The Brenau University Winter Convocation took place on Thursday, Jan. 15, at 12:45 p.m. in Pearce Auditorium. The annual convocation is held to commemorate the life and legacy of the South’s favorite son, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The theme for this year’s convocation was “Still I Rise”, and this song, based on the poem by Maya Angelou, was performed by the Brenau Vocal Chamber Ensemble, directed by Bobby Ivey, during the ceremony. There was also a musical selection sung by the Gospel Choir, directed by alumna Portia Burns, and a dance performed by the Tau Sigma Dance Fraternity. Dr. Debra Dobkins, the dean of the Women’s College, welcomed the WC students, encouraging the young women “to find your cause, to raise your voice, and to show your ‘sass’ in the fight for what’s right.”

A local motivational speaker and trainer, Martin was selected to be one of five deputies assigned to facilitate the A.D.V.A.N.C.E. (Avoiding Drugs, Violence, and Negative Choices Early) program for Hall County Schools. She is passionate about mentoring young girls, empowering women, and educating victims of childhood abuse. Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, she is actively involved in multiple enrichment programs for Latino Women and was recognized as one of the 2014 Community Heroes by WomenSource; a local non-profit organization whose motto is “to encourage personal and professional success for all women in Northeast Georgia.”

“She gave a really great speech,” said Paula Rives, a first year marketing student at Brenau. “Everything she said was very motivating. Sharing her history of growing up and her time in the police force was great.”

Martin said she hopes her story will help others to keep hope and not give up, even when life gets tough. “I choose to stay the course,“ she said. “I hope someone will listen to my story and say, ‘yes, I can make it.’”