Empowering Communities and Breaking Barriers
Alum Rosalinda Martinez Named to HBJ’s 40 Under 40
By Ashley Kilday
To talk to Rosalinda Martinez is to hear a story brimming with humility and gratitude. Recently named to Houston Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 list, Martinez earned a double Bachelor’s in Broadcast Journalism and Spanish from the University of Houston (UH), then her MBA from UHD in 2018. She currently serves as the Director of Community Strategy at AARP Texas.
An Upward Trajectory
Martinez was the daughter of immigrants and a first-generation college student when she enrolled at UH. A few years after graduation she decided to pursue an MBA with a concentration in leadership. Reflecting on her decision, she said, “It’s one of the best things to ever happen to me.”
Journey to AARP Texas
Her MBA studies coincided with her promotion to the role of vice president at the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (HHCC). The role allowed her to apply her classroom learnings in leadership, team management, and organizational structure. “As I looked for my next role, AARP [the American Association of Retired Persons] offered me the opportunity to become the Associate Director of Outreach and Advocacy in Houston.” However, just five months into her new role, the pandemic brought fresh challenges. “Pivoting was the word of the year,” Martinez recalled. “It’s been a whirlwind since then. I have often struggled with change, but with my MBA I learned that good leaders adapt to change.”
Throughout her career, Martinez has been dedicated to working with the Latino community. “Working in a nonprofit is a blessing but also a challenge,” she said. She credits HHCC with giving her the knowledge and opportunities to be well-rounded, which prepared her for her work at AARP. She remains committed to making a difference and ensuring diverse groups are supported at the local advocacy level.
Diversity and Inclusion
With a deep commitment to equity, Martinez focuses on serving underrepresented populations. Her experience at the Emerging Leaders Institute and UHD shaped her understanding of diversity, which she carries forward in her work. She aspires to eliminate barriers and provide opportunities for others, drawing from her personal journey of overcoming obstacles. “The diversity element was a huge part of why I chose UHD to get my MBA,” she said. “I learned how to serve the Latino community in particular.”
Advice for Students & New Graduates
“The biggest advice I give people is to network, get out of your comfort zone, and build relationships. Those will take you far,” Martinez said. She encourages individuals to maintain gratitude, remember their roots, and give back to their communities. Sharing her own story and life experiences to uplift others brings her full circle. “I remember the little girl I was, and I saw what could have been if someone hadn’t opened a door for me.”
While recognition like the 40 Under 40 is meaningful, Martinez believes that true value lies in sharing her story to encourage others. Through her work, leadership, and commitment to service, Rosalinda Martinez exemplifies the power of Gator resilience and the potential to create lasting change in underserved communities.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.