Martinez Shaver speaks at alma mater

Published 10:16 am Friday, February 2, 2024

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Martinez Shaver, a graduate of Valley High and current service member in the U.S. Army, spoke to the students of Chambers County on Thursday. Shaver’s talk focused on building resilience and his path through the Chambers County School District. 

He also spoke some on Black history, as the presentation coincided with the first day of Black History Month, on people he believes signify resiliency in Black history. He included in his list of inspirational figures, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Harriet Tubman; the creator of what is now Black History Month, Carter Woodson; the abolitionist John Brown, and signer of General Order No. 3 which proclaimed the remaining enslaved peoples free, Gordon Granger. 

General Order No. 3 is the proclamation that informed the people of Texas that enslaved people were freed, the anniversary of the order is now celebrated as Juneteenth. 

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The majority of the presentation revolved around ways the kids could build resiliency and confidence in their lives; lessons Shaver has learned the hard way. Shaver related his experience of doing well in school and sports for much of his upbringing until he got a job in high school. 

“I started to hang out in the streets after work. I started to smoke. I started to drink and at about the age I started to do those things,” Shaver said. “In school when you make those bad decisions, the results are bad grades, suspension, it gets you kicked off the team. When you make those types of decisions outside of these four walls, the consequences are much worse.”

Shaver said as a result he went through hard moments, including being held at gunpoint. When he realized he wanted a different life, Shaver started working overtime at his job to stay away from vices.

Shaver also started writing poetry to fill his time, a passion he holds today as a twice-published author. Soon after college, Shaver joined the military to pay for his tuition to college. He has an associate’s degree and is attending Troy University online to get his bachelor’s degree. 

Today, he is a staff sergeant and signals intelligence analyst in the Army and has been stationed in multiple countries in Europe. The date of the presentation had to be moved up due to Shaver’s upcoming deployment to South America. 

Having overcome these obstacles, Shaver had some tips for the kids on becoming resilient. First, he advised kids to fight negative thoughts with positive ones. Shaver also preached the importance of focusing your energy on priorities, giving the example of playing video games rather than studying or practicing for a game. Finally, he told the kids to put their decisions in perspective, asking themselves their part in positive or negative outcomes. 

The second half of the program focused on building confidence. Shaver’s tips were to complement others and give everything the best effort possible.

Shaver’s desire to be a speaker started at Valley High School as a student. Once he started sharing his poetry, often reading it aloud, those around him encouraged him to continue sharing.

“I just always wanted to come back [to Chambers County] and encourage them and just try to be a positive influence,” Shaver said.