Outstanding Alumna for 2004

(09-21-2004)

If the definition of a lady is a well-mannered and considerate woman with high standards, then Rosalie Martinez is the archetype. She is the first in her family to complete a degree in higher education, and the first woman to serve on the Adams State College Cabinet. Her commitment to her husband, family, businesses, and the community are inspirational. Anyone contemplating returning to college or starting their education later in life can look to her for a role model.

Her success as a businesswoman, her philanthropic nature, and involvement at Adams State College made her a clear choice for the 2004 Outstanding Alumna. She says, "Receiving this award means so much to me. I am grateful for the education I received, the opportunity to pass along that knowledge as a professor and the honor to serve the entire campus as an associate vice president."

Tammy Lopez, Executive Director of the Foundation, has known Rosalie professionally and personally. She said, "I am so excited to see Rosalie Martinez receive the award. She was my professor in the School of Business and I had the opportunity to work for her when she was an Associate Vice President for Administration. I have always been impressed with her professionalism, dedication and compassion for others. She is one of my role models and so very deserving of the Outstanding Alumnus Award! Congratulations Rosalie."

Martinez is a San Luis Valley native. "I grew up on a farm northwest of La Jara, the third of nine children. I graduated from high school in 1957, as the valedictorian. Although I received a scholarship from Adams State College I didn't attend. The cost of living on campus was too high and my family only owned one car," she said. Instead she started working, and a year later she married LeRoy. They began their prosperous business careers with a body shop and salvage yard, and Rosalie kept the books.

Years later, with the onslaught of computers, Rosalie wanted to increase her skills. She said, "In 1980, at the age of 40, I decided to take some accounting classes to do a better job of managing the finances. I was working full time in the business, and our two younger children were still in junior high, so I began with only one accounting class." Once she enrolled the education bug bit. "Being in the educational environment, and exposed to all the learning going on was very stimulating. Six years later, I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. It was wonderful to become the first person in my family to earn a degree."

Her decision to receive a degree meant an immediate benefit and an unforeseen career opportunity. "While I was attending college I used what I learned to streamline and computerize all records at our businesses. In the spring of 1987 I received a call from Dr. J. Thomas Gilmore, Emeritus Professor of Business, asking if I was interested in teaching. I gathered all my courage and accepted the position. I was teaching with the professors, who had been my teachers and mentors, and it was a great experience. I had the opportunity to work with hundreds of students and make a difference in their lives. I also continued my education, earning a Master's in Business Administration from Colorado State University."

That was just the beginning of her tenure at Adams State College. She added, "In 1995 Dr. Gilmore was appointed president of the college. One day we were making small talk, when he asked me if I would consider an appointment to associate vice president of administration. It was a good thing I was sitting down because I actually had to hold on to the desk."

It was fortunate for the campus that Rosalie accepted the challenge of administration. Her duties included supervision of Facility Services, Computing Services, Human Resources, and External Affairs. "I summoned all my courage and accepted the position. I became the first woman to serve on the President's Cabinet, it was quite an experience for me. We all learned a lot about the male and female differences in communication and management styles. But we worked well together and got things done. I met many wonderful people, many of whom I continue a relationship with today."

Dr. David Svaldi, Provost, served on Cabinet with Rosalie. He said, "Rosalie bled ASC green in everything she did. She cared about others and worked long hours to accomplish her tasks. She spent many hours advising my oldest daughter helping her to fulfill her potential and feel good about herself--something I will always appreciate Rosalie for. I miss working with her. She was an ASC story and has helped others achieve their ASC story."

Besides her personal success the businesses she shared with LeRoy continued to thrive and multiply until they found themselves owners of everything from car rental to a cattle ranch. "Keeping track of all these ventures started becoming a challenge. In 1999 I decided it was time for me to retire and spend more time with my family."

Rosalie understands the commitment it takes to be a working mother and wife. She believes the support from her husband and their team effort has been paramount to all her successes. "I married LeRoy Martinez in 1958. From the beginning LeRoy and I put our marriage first. We take care of each other's needs before job, careers, or children. When I was ready to go to college he was supportive. It is hard to tear up a united front." They have four children, two who have also graduated from Adams State College, and six grandchildren.

Like many consciousness proprietors, Rosalie gives back, to the college and the community. "I am currently on the Board of Directors for the Boys and Girls Club, the Foundation Board of Directors for the San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center, Honorary Board of the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame, and Adams State College Foundation Board of Directors and their Campus Ministry Committee."

Undoubtedly Rosalie would have been a success in her life without the college education and later faculty and administrative positions; it is definitely to the benefit of Adams State College that she chose to direct her energies to the institution. "I can say I have lived a very full life. I have been blessed with a wonderful family and many friends. I have learned and continue to learn more than I ever imagined. I have met many people and traveled to so many places as a result of my education and career. I have had the opportunity to touch the lives of many students, and they in turn enriched my life. Some folks would say that I have been very lucky in my life, but I prefer to think that 'luck' is when opportunity and preparation meet. Only then, will those doors open for you."