Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Meet Rio Salado’s 2019 All-AZ Honorees

Left to right: John Bastian, Kate Smith, Macyn Bradley, Karen Bradley, Andrea Martinez,
Melanie Abts, Rachelle Clarke and Vincent Martinez.


Each year, participating Arizona colleges nominate two students for the All-AZ Academic Team. The honor includes tuition to one of Arizona’s three state universities and a cash scholarship. Students are chosen for demonstrating academic excellence and leadership and service to the community.

Rio Salado’s 2019 All-AZ honorees are Karen Bradley and Andrea Martinez.

Bradley with Rio Salado
Interim President Kate Smith
Karen Bradley
At one point in her life, Karen Bradley was belittled for not having a college degree. Today she is a champion for early childhood education, advocate for at-risk women and children, single mother to six children, caregiver to her mother and a Rio Salado College honor student.

“Going to college at this stage in my life was a hard decision, both emotionally and financially,” said Bradley. “Receiving the All-Arizona Academic Team scholarship made me realize that I made the right decision. It also bolstered my confidence and helped me realize that earning a college degree is a goal I can achieve.”

With a passion for helping those in need, Bradley decided to pursue an associate degree in family life education at Rio Salado College.

“Because I enrolled at Rio Salado, I had the opportunity to complete my studies online while continuing my community and volunteer activities,” Bradley said. “To be able to take what I was learning and immediately put it into practice was a wonderful opportunity.”

Those efforts include founding The House of Timothy, a non-profit organization that supports pregnant women and new parents with the education and skills they need to create strong family environments.

She also leads “Mom and Me” classes at the Compassion Care Center, and volunteers with the New Mercies Pregnancy Center, both in San Tan Valley.

“As a former foster parent, I saw a tremendous need to educate parents and provide them with education, resources and crisis prevention,” Bradley said. “All too often I saw children removed from their homes because parents were never given these tools.”

In recognition of her extensive volunteer work, leadership and outreach awareness, Bradley was named 2018 Pinal Champion for Young Children by First Things First.

Her educational accolades include being named to the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the National Society of Leadership and Success.

Bradley has already started taking classes at Northern Arizona University to earn a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration.

“My goal is to become a family life educator and to ultimately manage a family resource center, a place where parents can find support, education and the resources to grow healthy families.”

Andrea Martinez
As a self-described “student of the world,” Andrea Martinez has a diverse background.

She lived in Sweden to study its culture and language. She learned about the stock market while working at an investment firm. She deepened her compassion for humanity while working for an international health non-profit. And she grew curious about how laws are passed while working at a governmental organization.

The one thing missing in her career? A college degree.

“I wanted to expand my education so that I can make a difference in the quality of life for our Arizona communities,” Martinez said. “This knowledge will open more doors for my professional growth and opportunities in public policy.”

Career growth is one reason Martinez decided to earn a college degree. The other is her parents.

“I look at my parents as the most influential people in my life,” said Martinez, who was the sixth of seven children. “My father was a veteran who worked at a job for 25 years that offered no advancement, and my mother maintained our home and didn’t attend college.”

“Having survived WWII, my parents were very practical and humble,” Martinez continued. “At age 61, my mother returned to the workforce as a retail clerk, to later retire at 74 as a university dean’s assistant.”

“No longer do I frame their life together as uninspired,” Martinez said. “Rather, it is a legacy, a tribute to loyalty and self-sacrifice. Finishing my degree is my goal and the legacy I wish to leave to my own two daughters.”

A successful Rio Salado College student, Martinez earned a certificate and associate degree in public administration (2014-16) before returning for her associate degree in general studies.

As a member of the college’s PTK chapter, Martinez participated in many activities including Healing Arts Day, and Free Arts for Abused Children Arizona. She also volunteered for the Be A Leader Foundation and gave her time to a local high school senior girls’ leadership program.

“As an enthusiastic advocate for others, it brings me great satisfaction to help individuals see their worth and value as it unfolds,” Martinez said.

She plans to transfer to Northern Arizona University’s online program to earn a bachelor’s degree in humanities and hopes to one day work at the state level as an executive assistant in public policy. 

Photo of Karen and Andrea at awards ceremony

Congratulations Karen and Andrea!

Contributed by Mira Radovich, Communications Coordinator.