Dr. Cheryl Martin, professor and well-known scholar of Mexican and Borderlands history, recently retired after a thirty-six year teaching career at UTEP. Dr. Martin graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University during the 1960’s. Her Foreign Service degree prepared her for a career in the diplomatic corps, but there were few opportunities for women to advance at the time, despite the social and cultural changes starting to take place in U.S. society. She had no desire to be relegated to a remote foreign outpost to stamp visas all day. “I never knew a female physician, I thought an engineer was a guy—definitely a guy—who ran a train, and all of my professors in college were male!” Martin excelled in school, she loved learning and she was good at it. This led to her to pursuing an academic career instead of a job in the diplomatic corps. As she stated, “It’s easy to forget that women of my generation had very few role models or mentors to guide us and to help us deal with the many forms of discrimination, both blatant and subtle, that most of us endured as we pursued our goals.” Martin went forward with her studies. She met her husband, fellow UTEP history professor Dr. Charles Martin, while the two were in graduate school at Tulane University. She earned her Master’s and Ph.D. by 1974.
In 1978, an opening became available at UTEP, and Dr. Martin accepted a position to teach the history of Mexico and the Borderlands. At the time, the UTEP history department had no women tenure-track history professors.What caught her attentionin teaching at UTEP was the chance to use the “library’s vast holdings in my field.” She taught for 36 years and is extremely proud of her students’ achievements. “Several of my students have gone on to pursue Ph.D.’s in history and are now professors themselves.” When asked if she feels she has left her mark here at UTEP, she replied, “I’ll leave that for others to decide, but I like to think that the women of my generation, here at UTEP and in the wider world, have made it easier for younger women to follow their chosen career paths than it was for us.”
In April 2014 Dr. Martin celebrated her career and retirement with friends and colleagues at a reception held at the Hilton Garden Inn on campus. She plans to spend time with friends and family and wants to do some travelling. Her son Jeff and his family live in Arizona. “We thoroughly enjoy being grandparents to Mackenzie, now 6, who is a young ballerina and actress (she had her theatrical debut in a kids’ performance of “101 Dalmatians” a few months ago), and Zachary, who is four and very much into Legos and Hobbits.”
Dr. Martin is currently studying her family history. She recently joined Ancestory.com and found that she is a descendant of Anne Bradstreet, the famous seventeenth-centurypoetess from Massachusetts. Martin states: “She was a contemporary of the famous Mexican poet Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, and, like Sor Juana, something of a feminist within the constraints of the society in which she lived. I have spent my professional career learning about Sor Juana’s world, and now I would like to know more about Anne’s. This probably won’t result in any kind of academic publication, but who knows? In any event, I would like to be able to share this heritage with my grandchildren and great-nephews.”
Dr. Martin’s publications include Rural Society in Colonial Morelos (1985), Governance and Society in Colonial Mexico: Chihuahua in the Eighteenth Century (1996), and Latin America and its People (2005), co-authored with Mark Wasserman. She also co-edited with William Beezley and William French, Rituals of Rule, Rituals of Resistance: Public Celebrations and Popular Culture in Mexico (1994).
Department of History faculty page, http://academics.utep.edu/