Doctoral Student Profile: Dawn Martin

Special Olympics

Written by Dr. Joel Domingo

Dawn Martin has always known a life of volunteering and helping others. In high school, she volunteered to work in a Special Day classroom a few hours a month. After that, she worked at a group home for adults with developmental disabilities and then volunteered with Habitat for Humanity where she would end up in another country periodically over the span of six years with their Global Village program building homes for families living in substandard housing.

Eventually, Dawn became a teacher and is currently an Adapted Physical Education Specialist with the Los Angeles Unified School District. She teaches physical education to students with disabilities in an effort to remediate any skills that are well below their developmental age, modifies activities so they can access the curriculum, and creates environments where students can rise above their challenges in order to attain and feel success.

The best part of it all is that these students experience inclusion and are able to interact with their peers to the best of their abilities. The reward for me is watching the students smile and laugh when they are able to do something that they could not the day before.

This experience naturally led her to volunteer with Special Olympics under a project called Project Unify, where curriculum and programs that have been developed for children with disabilities are integrated and implemented into schools.

I have always been a huge supporter of the Special Olympics. Every year, I take my students to the Special Olympics School Games where they are able to compete and interact with other students throughout the school district. I have volunteered and assisted coaches, volunteered at the Summer Games, Invitationals, and most recently, the World Games here in Los Angeles. Volunteering has always been a big part of my life. It reminds me of my blessings, to think outside of myself, and give back to the community.

This sense of leadership in the community also helps her as a student in the School of Applied Leadership’s  doctoral program here at CityU.   She feels that she is refining her skills as a leader by developing her competencies and challenging her beliefs.

The doctoral program will give me the degree I need to have no boundaries on where I want to go and make my impact on a broader scale. CityU courses challenge my current line of thinking, making me research my own beliefs. Those challenges either affirm my beliefs or cause me to question and alter my thoughts based on the most current and supported data. These are all qualities of an effective leader

Because of this, the idea of ‘leading by example’ is one principle she continues to hold in high regard she says,  It is not enough to say you believe in something. It is your actions that define you. If we lead with the greater good in our hearts and act true to that belief, then we can inspire people around us and change the world.

Published September 28, 2015



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