Nurse of the Week: Norma Martinez Rogers Helps First-generation Hispanic Nursing Students Graduate 

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Norma Martinez Rogers, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, a 50-year veteran of UT Health San Antonio Nursing School turned living legend. In November, she was awarded the highest honor of any nurse at the 2022 Health Policy Summit in Washington, DC, and is only the second Latina to receive the American Academy of Nursing Living Legend Award.

We are proud to honor her as our Nurse of the Week.

Martinez Rogers grew up in the projects of Dallas, didn’t speak English until the third grade, and had a family that worked multiple jobs to keep him in school. But he says he also had one thing that worked for him to succeed – the drive to go to college.

“I was motivated and I knew I didn’t want to be poor. I wanted to be educated.”

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Today, Martinez Rogers is a research professor and professor emeritus.

“You have to have that dream, not a fantasy, a dream that you can make come true,” he said. “I graduated from Incarnate Word College and we were the only three Latinos at the time. But when I got my Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin in 1995, I was the only Latina on stage,” she adds.

Since then, the first-generation Hispanic college graduate has spent her time advocating for underserved populations, nursing education, and health care policy reform and mentoring her successors.

“Because there are so few of us Latino nurse faculty, I have no one to connect with. There was no one like you,” he explained.

Her brainchild is Juntos Podemos, a grant-driven training program that identifies high school students interested in health careers and Spanish nursing students who may need a little motivation to graduate. They are assigned counselors who have gone through many stages to help them stay in the classroom and finish.

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He says it’s difficult because many first-generation Latinos are dealing with economic hardships that have made it difficult in those last two years.

Martinez Rogers says working and going to school at the same time in a challenging schedule is often the only thing that keeps a student on track.

But it doesn’t end there. Martinez Rogers also founded a program called the International Association of Latino Nurse Faculty/Nurse Leaders, which works to pave the way for Latino nurses to rise through the ranks.

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“This organization is to encourage and educate our nursing leaders. How are you promoted? How are you feeling?” he explains.

Martinez Rogers is an inspiring woman, who has broken so many barriers that she is considered a national treasure. However, in everything, he lives by a simple motto: “In order to receive, you must first give.”

Pick a Nurse of the Week! Every Wednesday, features a nurse who is making a difference in the lives of their patients, students, and colleagues. We encourage you to do so appoint a nurse that have impacted your life as the next Nurse of the Week, and we will feature them online and in our weekly newsletter.

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