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Norma Martinez Rogers: an elderly Latina woman with graying hair. She is smiling at the camera.
Norma Martinez Rogers,. Courtesy Photo.

Latina nurse receives Living Legend recognition

Norma Martinez Rogers will be recognized for over 50 years of work and accomplishment in the field of nursing.

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Norma Martinez Rogers, PhD, RN, FAAN, and professor emeritus in the University of Texas Health has been selected to be an American Academy of Nursing (AAN) Living Legend. The academy’s highest honor will be bestowed upon her at the academy’s 2022 Health Policy Conference in Washington D.C. on Oct. 28.

To be recognized as a Living Legend, the candidate must be nominated by three individuals, be a fellow in good standing with the AAN for at least 15 years, and have demonstrated extraordinary, diverse, and sustained accomplishments to the nursing profession.

With over 50 years of experience in nursing, Martinez Rogers has dedicated her lifelong efforts towards mentorship, nursing education, advocacy for underserved communities, and healthcare policy change.

She has additionally served in leadership roles at the local, state, national, and international levels.

“I am humbled to receive this prestigious award. Every time I think of how blessed I have been to be allowed to accomplish so much it brings tears to my eyes. I know that it is through the grace of a Higher Power that I have been able to do all that I have done,” Martinez Rogers said to University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

“Though I grew up in a lower socio-economic family, I was privileged that my parents believed in getting a good education. I thank them for instilling in me the responsibility to help others. I did not do this alone and I sincerely thank those who helped me along my journey,” she added.

Martinez Rogers was responsible for the initiation and grant securing of the Juntos Podemos mentorship program for first-generation Hispanic nursing students.

“Because I was a first-generation Hispanic attending college as a nursing student myself, I saw the need to encourage and support students who had never made this journey before into higher education,” Martinez Rogers said.

“I have believed, throughout my professional life, that as a Latina/Hispanic, I am obligated to help my people become successful. I started Juntos Podemos because I took this belief of ‘helping’ to the program. My motto for the students was, ‘In order to receive, you must first give.’  We taught the students to give through mentorship,” she continued.

Juntos Podemos has expanded to include outreach programs to high schools and undergraduate programs for those interested in entering the healthcare field.

Of Juntos Podemos’ goals, they have succeeded in creating an educational pipeline to address nursing shortages, improve diversity within the profession, and develop Hispanic nurse leaders.

Martinez Rogers has additionally acted as president of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses from 2010-2012. She became a founding member of the Congressional advisory group Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, which advises on healthcare for underserved children.

In 2021, Martinez Rogers retired from UT Health after 26 years of service, but has still continued to find ways to help her community, such as serving as chair of the board of directors for Ride Connect Texas, a non-profit dedicated to elderly adults, disabled adults, and their caregivers.

Additionally, she was the 2021 recipient of the AL DÍA Top Nurses Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her decades of service.

Two other nursing faculty members will be made AAN fellows at the conference next month: Kyungeh An, PhD, RN, a professor with two decades of experience and the Director of a PhD program focusing on preventing cardiovascular disease, and Cindy Sickora, DNP, RN, the Vice Dean of Practice and Engagement at UT Health.

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