Martha Elisa Vazquez
Martha Elisa Vazquez was born January 10, 1054 to Victor and Maria Luisa Vazquez. The Vazquez home was humble, but filled with love and attention for Martha and her older brother, Victor, Jr. Her father's small business had been passed down to him from his father, Guillermo Vazquez, who started the jewelry/pawn shop at the turn of the century in what used to be the heart of downtown Tucson, now the site of the Tucson Community Center.
Martha's father passed away when she was 7 years old, and her mother had never worked outside the home, so the family was taken in by relatives. Those were difficult years. Without a home of their own, they literally existed at the mercy of family. Finally, Martha, her mother and brother were able to get a home of their own. Three years later, at the age of 17, her brother passed away, and again their lives were thrown into chaos.
Martha managed to graduate from high school with honors and received a full scholarship to the University of Arizona. Working three jobs and taking a full load at the U of A, she got through school while financially supporting her mother.
She began her career at the U of A studying public administration, but during her senior year she discovered broadcasting. She graduated with a degree in radio and television and was immediately hired at KOLD-TV Channel 13 in Tucson. She has been on the air in Southern Arizona for 30 years: 28 of them at KUAT, KOLD and KVOA in Tucson and 2 years at KOOL in Phoenix.
Martha has received many awards for her reporting, including a Children's Express Award, which she shared with Bryant Gumbel, for a series of reports on violence against children; a Maggie Award from Planned Parenthood for reporting on reproductive issues affecting women; and many Associated Press and United Press International awards for reporting.
Among her many community honors, she was presented by the Mayor of Tucson with Copper Letters for contributions to the city, she was honored by the International Reading Association and the Tucson Area Council for contributions in literacy promotion, and she received a 1986 Community Service Award from Nosotros, an emergency shelter service for families. In addition, she was honored by Tucson Medical Center for ten years of service in hosting the Children's Miracle Network Telethon, a yearly event that raises money for the children's unit at TMC.
Martha has read at dozens of schools over the years in the 'Love of Reading' program that happens every year in February, she has served at dozens of career fairs for junior and high school students, she has participated in 'Blue Chip Leadership Seminars' for U of A media students, and has been keynote speaker at high school graduations all over Tucson and Southern Arizona.
She has emceed dozens of fundraisers over the last thirty years for organizations like Boys and Girls Clubs, the League of Mexican American Women, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Chicanos Por La Causa, Los Decendientes de Tucson, Tucson Association for Child Care, Handidogs, the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, Casa de los Ninos, and the Salvation Army. She has also served on a number of boards including Handidogs and UA Presents.
Martha has endeavored to give back to a community that has given her so much, and has tried to be an example for Hispanic girls and boys, to show that with hard work, perseverance and the love of your family, you can accomplish anything you set out to do.
Martha and I have been friends for over 25 years. I believe she is an exceptional woman. She has a job that makes her a celebrity in this community of Tucson, but she is down-to-earth and friendly to everyone. She is so proud to be a graduate of the University of Arizona. She supports the University any way that she can, especially the Wildcat sports. I knew this gift would mean so much to her.