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When it comes to accomplishing dreams, Richard Martinez III has it down to a science.

Serve in the U.S. Army? Check.

Get into Harvard? Check.

Pursue a professional singing career? Check.

And that only scratches the surface of Martinez’ academic, athletic, and artistic achievements.

In high school, Martinez was both a nationally awarded Academic Decathlon competitor and skilled wrestler. With these accolades, he decided to enlist in the U.S. Army after graduation, puzzling many of his peers.

“People think that you go into the military because you’re poor or you’re stupid,” Martinez said. “That’s the furthest thing from the truth.”

Joining the Army was almost a family tradition for Martinez, since nearly 100 members of his family have served since 1900. According to him, serving in the military was a “moral prerequisite for any young man.”

Martinez served as a paratrooper and was stationed in Iraq, a time that he describes with unmeasurable pride. All the while, he still had his eyes on going to Harvard once he left the military, which was another dream many people doubted would ever happen.

However, Martinez was only just getting started. After his service, he became a wrestling coach and another dream was conquered – he was accepted into Harvard. With financial aid from the GI Bill, Martinez will be attending Harvard in the Fall and will continue his education in Classical Studies.

After university, he hopes to pursue singing as a professional career and to inspire other young men and women to work hard for what they want (via The Fresno Bee):

He’s already seen too many young people from his neighborhood abandon their dreams. “Find something you’re passionate about and don’t let go of it, despite what anybody else tells you or says you cannot do.”

Martinez has spent a lot of time thinking about what it means to be a good leader and decided it boils down to this: “A leader is someone who inspires others to become their best self.”