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The UNM Foundation: Our Stories of Impact

Passing On a Love of Nursing

Carolyn Martinez, inspired by her time in nursing and appreciation of The University of New Mexico, has made important gifts to the College of Nursing

Though she was a hospital trained nurse at the Albert Einstein medical center in Philadelphia, she found a home in the land of enchantment and saw three of her children attend The University of New Mexico. Her pride in nursing and the school have fused in multiple gifts to UNM. “Bottom line—we need nurses,” she says. “We did back when I worked, and we do now.” 

Martinez’s generosity over the years includes an endowed scholarship that has supported 33 students since 2014. She also made gifts to pay for Nursing Level 1 students’ white coats until this became a student fee. “We didn’t have a white coat ceremony in my day, but we had something similar in the 1950s,” she says. “Something like this just signals an accomplishment and a feeling of belonging. I think it’s a great way to feel encouragement.” 

This past year, Martinez gave the first gift for the UNM College of Nursing’s new building. “That the College of Nursing continues to build is such a healthy sign,” she says. “It makes you feel good to see investment in it.” 

And Martinez has seen the results of investing in UNM for her own children. Her son Phillip graduated with a bachelor’s degree in engineering, her daughter Kathleen with a bachelor’s and master’s in nursing and her daughter Cristina received all of her higher education degrees at UNM, including her medical degree. “I’m so proud of my children and I’ve loved the experience of seeing them go through the school,” she says. “You want to feel that a school will help your children progress and The University of New Mexico gave me that confidence.” 

Martinez remembers her days in the profession as a simpler time in nursing, but what hasn’t changed to her is a commitment to people and a calling to help heal. “The friendships, what we went through together and getting to help patients isn’t something you forget,” she says. “I appreciate people who choose this path and want them to know I’m behind them. I’ve said it so many times—nursing is important and needs to be more appreciated. If I can play a small role in helping students and helping the profession, I’m so happy to do it.”

Stories of ImpactPassing On a Love of Nursing