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Student wins ‘College Gentleman of the Year’ award honoring modern chivalry

| Thursday, March 21, 2019

When senior Jim Martinson first heard that he had been nominated for a Gentleman’s Showcase award from the Network of Enlightened Women (NeW), he said he thought the award would be a modest accomplishment.

“It was kind of funny, because I thought at first that this thing would be something that just my family’s going to know about, and maybe I’ll tell a few of my friends, but then a lot of people started voting,” he said.

But after Martinson won the showcase and was named the 2019 College Gentleman of the Year, the experience took a turn for him.

“I was really humbled by the whole thing,” he said. “I really didn’t think it was going to be a big deal. I really didn’t think I was going to win, because there were 85 different entries and I didn’t think that people were going to get too excited about it. But I was really overwhelmed by the amount of support and the amount of people that were interested in getting me nominated, and so I was just very impressed but also very surprised by the whole experience.”

Karin Lips, founder and president of NeW, said the organization seeks to award this honor to someone who has been well-rounded throughout their college experience.

“The Gentlemen Showcase celebrates young men who are polite, act with integrity and treat everyone with the respect they deserve,” Lips said in an email. “Selflessness, respect and kindness are common themes nominators use. The men nominated stand by their values, fight for good in their communities and advocate for positive change. We want to honor these young men — and encourage more of them.”

Martinson said the award seeks to recognize men who exhibit respect towards others on a day-to-day basis.

“It’s basically promoting modern-day chivalry, I guess you could say,” he said. “Basically, the premise of it is a lot of people think that chivalry’s gone and it’s dead and it’s not coming back, but their goal is to highlight the fact that there are still guys out there that hold doors open for women and take people out on dates and are nice to their sisters.”

As his prize, Martinson received $1,000 to donate to the charity of his choice, according to a press release. Martinson said he chose the Love and Fidelity Network as the beneficiary of his donation for their work advocating for marriage and family values.

“It just basically promotes the idea that marriage is the fundamental building block of society, and so just all of their ideas and their conferences and their funding goes towards promoting events that live out that message — whether that be talking about adoption or talking about how to be a good parent, how to prepare yourself for a family life,” Martinson said.

“In the society that we live in today, I think family life has taken a backseat to a lot of people’s careers,” he added. “I think careers are extremely important, and something that both men and women should absolutely strive to be successful, but at the same time, I think our society has really sacrificed the family for career a lot of the time, and this is something that the Love and Fidelity Network tries to say; ‘Those two things are compatible.’”

Martinson also serves as the president of Students for Child Oriented Policy (SCOP), a campus organization that aims to protect the interests of children through legislation both at Notre Dame and in the world. The Gentleman of the Year award corresponds with SCOP’s mission and pillars, he said.

I think it’s very fitting for SCOP, because the Students for Child-Oriented Policy just promotes the policy that helps the [nourishment] and development of children,” he said. “SCOP has five pillars — they are family, adoption, education, anti-pornography and anti-drug abuse. But all those things are centered around the child, and making sure that the child’s development and well-being is protected. I think this award fits in really well with what we’re trying to do with SCOP, which is just basically promoting that same idea — that family life is so fundamental to society and it’s the only way for society to continue and function and thrive — by promoting the family unit.”

Lips said the award is important in light of conversations taking place about women’s rights nationwide.

“At a time when we are having a national discussion about how women are treated in the workplace and relationships, this contest adds an important element by showcasing men who respect women and demonstrate kindness to all,” she said. “NeW encourages equality and mutual respect between men and women. By praising gentlemen, we hope to inspire more of them.”

After receiving the award, Martinson said he is going to continue trying to be the best friend and man he can be moving forward.

“I plan to just keep doing the things that I’m doing, treating all men and women that I meet with respect and the dignity that they deserve,” he said. “I think being a gentleman manifests itself in the little things that you do in daily life. … You want to always be thinking about others and thinking about people that you care about and how you can help them. A lot of being a gentleman is being a good friend to men and women, and to challenge people to be better people as well.”

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About Claire Rafford

Claire is a senior from Tempe, Arizona majoring in English and minoring in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy and Business-Economics. She peaked when her team won the Battle of the Books state championship in 2011.

Contact Claire