2011 Gold Nugget Recipients: Ray Sanchez & Mike Martinez
Ray Sanchez & Mike Martinez
The University of Texas at El Paso, The College of Liberal Arts, and the UTEP Alumni Association are pleased to announce the 2011 Gold Nugget Award recipients.
The award recognizes outstanding alumni from each of the colleges and the School of Nursing. The recipients are being honored for their exceptional achievements and contributions to their professions, communities and UTEP.
The Dean’s Office of the College of Liberal Arts invites you and your guests to a ceremony and reception for the 2011 honorees, Mike Martinez and Ray Sanchez. The reception will be held on Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 4:00 pm at the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts. RSVP to 915-747-7013 by October 13, 2011.
Mike Martinez – Gold Nugget, Bachelor of Arts - Communication, 2011
In a career spanning 60 years, Mike Martinez has helped transform major corporations, organizations and institutions the world over. But he first applied those tremendous talents at the then-Texas College of Mines and Metallurgy in 1949.
A journalism student, Martinez led the charge to change the college’s name to Texas Western University – a name he asserted would better reflect its growth since its founding as a small engineering and mining school in 1914. The University of Texas System and State Legislature approved the change to Texas Western, but insisted on “College” instead of “University.”
That remarkable achievement helped launch an even more remarkable career. Tapped early for an advertising management position with Sears, he left the college (which became UTEP in 1967) nine credit hours shy of his degree.
His bilingual, bicultural communication skills helped propel him into executive positions with top national marketing, advertising and public relations firms. He handled Fortune 500 clients including Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Co. and Exxon, expanding their international presence. Today, he is president and CEO of his own consulting firm, Strategic Management Services, in Dallas.
This year, he completed the coursework to earn his bachelor’s degree from the University he impacted so strongly as a student. Martinez says, “Life has a funny way of working itself out.” Indeed it does; his diploma reads neither Texas College of Mines nor Texas Western, but The University of Texas at El Paso.
Ray Sanchez – Gold Nugget, Bachelor of Arts - Communication, 1993
Most UTEP graduates use their college degrees as launching pads for their professional careers.
Ray Sanchez reversed the process, enjoying an outstanding career as a sports writer and sports editor before shifting his focus to higher education.
“It took me 40 years to get my degree,” Sanchez joked.
After serving in the Army following World War II, the El Paso High School graduate returned home, eager to enter UTEP (then the Texas College of Mines and Metallurgy) through the G.I. Bill. He picked journalism as his major, the field he loved. But, when the El Paso Herald-Post hired him as a sportswriter, he dropped out.
“I said to myself, ‘I’ll get my degree in a year or two,’” Sanchez said.
The “year or two” stretched into 43. He became one of the most highly regarded sports writers in El Paso, retiring as the Herald-Post sports editor in 1990. He also authored six books, including The Miners: The History of Sports at The University of Texas at El Paso.
For all his accomplishments, however, his résumé seemed incomplete. So he returned to UTEP and earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1993.
“I took courses like pre-law, photography, American history, cinema, philosophy, poetry to complete my required credits,” he said. “I not only felt more fulfilled, but smarter. It taught me that no matter how much you think you know, there’s so much more to learn.”