Born in Bloomington, Indiana, Kinan Martin moved between different national and international locales in his childhood ranging from North Carolina, to Syria, and Saudi Arabia before he settled in Charlottesville, Virginia. This travel experience instilled in him a love for adventure, an ability to appreciate different cultures, and a passion for learning foreign languages. In fact, his fascination with letters could be seen early in his life when, at only three years old, he gathered a crowd in his kindergarten as he wrote out the full alphabet in the sandbox.
With an African-American/Arab background, Kinan learned how to negotiate the blessings and challenges of a multicultural identity. This middleman position opened up avenues of understanding between him and other cultures, minorities, and mainstream populations as his unique background allowed him to play the role of a cultural translator. Kinan’s parents instilled in him an appreciation of cultural diversity and a passion for foreign languages as he pursued learning Arabic, Japanese, French, Russian, Chinese, and recently Tamil. This dedication paid off when he achieved the STAMP Biliteracy Seal in French and passed the highest level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test [N1] in the 96th percentile. Kinan has always been fascinated with languages’ ability to create cultural bridges through highlighting our differences, but above all, our similarities in the human experience.
Kinan’s other passion, engineering, avails one the opportunity to create beauty out of chaos, and conceive designs that are both functional and aesthetic. He believes that engineering should be in sync with environmental and social issues. His training at the Math, Engineering Science and Academy (MESA) at Albemarle High School endowed Kinan with the tools necessary to succeed in pursuing a degree in computer science or biomedical engineering with their immense potential in creating useful products to help people enhance their quality of life. At junior high, Kinan volunteered to tutor students with Algebra and advanced math. This was such a fulfilling experience that it propelled him to officially join the Peer Tutoring Center in his sophomore year. The patience and dedication he displayed in helping students with ADHD as well as neurotypical students in technical drawing, French, and Japanese earned Kinan the Peer Tutoring Patience Award (2016-2017).
During his academic career, Kinan competed against regional Albemarle schools in the AHS Academic Club Trivia Bowl, and has been a member of the Math Honor Society, the French Honor Society, and the Japanese Club. Additionally, he garnered several awards including: AP Scholar with Honor Award (2018), La Société Honoraire de Français Certificate (2017), Mu Alpha Theta, National High School and Two-year College Mathematics Honor Society (2017), 100 Black Men High School Scholar (2017), National Society of High School Scholars (2017), and the National Junior Honor Society (2015). His pride for earning these awards is matched only by the immense satisfaction he feels when organizing teams to help in food donations at Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry, or when volunteering at Habitat for Humanity and Helping Hands. His commitment and advocacy for these causes earned him the Albemarle County Leadership Award (2016). Kinan’s future academic and professional journeys will be guided by the same principles of excellence, by lifting others, and by passing on the torch to future Ron Brown Scholars.