Profile By: Angelika Walker
After a few moments of conversation with Marti, it’s easy to see why she has been a shoulder to lean on for so many students, faculty, and staff across the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) campus—her voice and sincere manner radiate feelings of welcome, comfort, kindness, and empathy. Earning her Master’s of Science in Counseling from UNO in 1978, Marti permanently joined the UNO Counseling Center staff in 1984. She has served as an academic advisor and voice of welcome to many incoming freshmen; as a counselor to students, faculty, and staff; as an instructor; as a University Ombudsperson; and as Director of the Counseling Center/University Division. Marti also coordinated the creation and development of the First Year Experience program for incoming freshman.
Near the end of World War II, Marti Rosen-Atherton was born in Los Angeles, California while her father was serving in the Pacific. Growing-up in a Jewish home of three generations and having lived with her maternal grandmother, her mother, and her two younger siblings, Marti “feel[s] blessed … to come from a line of wonderfully strong women” (Rosen-Atherton 2012). To learn more about Marti’s Jewish heritage, visit: Tale of Bashert. Marti’s father passed away when she was only fourteen, although she can still remember one of his strongest legacies to her: “Marti—you are what you are because of your attitude,” a philosophy that has gotten her through some difficult life challenges, and one that she passes on to her students today (Interview 2012). She says she is incredibly thankful for growing up in a close family that has
Marti’s first job out of graduate school was as a therapist at Jennie Edmundson Hospital and at a psychiatric office in Council Bluffs. What followed was a trying year—she underwent a divorce, lost her beloved grandmother, turned 40 years old, and lost her job, all within a four-month period. Fortunately, Marti again had “an incredible support system” to help her through this difficult time (Interview 2011). Part of that incredible support system was her graduate school mentor, Bob Butler, who directed her to a grant-funded position at Iowa Western Community College (IWCC). Along with all the other things she had learned from Bob, his support at that critical time taught her “the importance of networking and what it means to have somebody believe in you” (Interview 2012). While working at IWCC, she saw an advertisement for a position with the
When asked about changes she has seen at UNO since she came as a graduate student in 1978, and then as a counselor and advisor in 1984, Marti laughed with less-than-fond memories of registering for classes at the Field House, card in hand, hoping her wished-for classes would still be open when she got to the front of the line (Interview 2011). Technology has not only streamlined online registration, which she describes as “absolutely fantastic,” but has also brought distance education, web-based instruction, in-the-moment communication with peers and professors, and a wealth of information and resources to students’ fingertips (Interview 2012). She painfully recalls the days of writing papers on legal pads and agonizingly correcting typed copies with whiteout and erased carbon copies. Word processing, much less submitting a paper electronically, was unimaginable!
Marti has also witnessed a growing sense of
For her years of dedication to UNO, Marti has been honored with numerous awards. The FYE program, which was created under Marti’s leadership, earned the UNO Strategic Planning Award for Student Focus in 2005. In 1989, Marti was presented with an award from the Nebraska Professional Counseling Association for Outstanding Mental Health Counselor. During the 2000s, Marti’s incredible influence on UNO was particularly recognized; she earned an Excellence in Teaching Part-time Faculty Award from the UNO School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation in 2000; an Exemplary Service to Students Award from the UNO Project Achieve Program in 2005; a Woman of Wisdom Award from the Program for Women & Successful Aging in 2005; an Outstanding Achievement Award from the UNO Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Women in 2009; and a Mary Ann Lamanna Award for Excellence in Women’s
When she’s not at UNO, Marti enjoys reading, knitting, being outdoors on beautiful days, and spending time with her husband of 21 years, John Atherton, their combined family of five children and ten grandchildren, and friends. Her passion for travel often reunites her with high school friends and college roommates who are scattered across the country. Marti’s travels have also carried her to international destinations; two of her most meaningful trips were to Israel in 1995 and to Poland in 2005 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. She calls China and the Far East “the most fascinating.” She says, “I haven’t gone anywhere that I haven’t loved and learned. I love going to different parts of the world, meeting people from different cultures, and being exposed to new experiences, histories, and landscapes around the world” (Interview