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 2012).
The thread of profound and binding friendship through an ethics of care is bone deep with Marti. A breast cancer survivor herself, Marti facilitated a breast cancer support group for ten years and established lifelong friendships in the process. Marti might say she has lived a miracle of survival through breast cancer. Here again, she shared support and nurturing with women in the community, specifically at Methodist Hospital. “I was asked to facilitate because I was in the unique position of being both a mental health therapist and a breast cancer survivor” (Interview 2012). Although her ongoing group, 1992–2005, ended, several members continued to meet regularly. “We recently mourned the loss of one of our dearest friends and always know, when we’re together, not to take one day of life for granted” (Interview 2012). It is no wonder that so many people from all walks of life love Marti and feel inspired by her optimistic, hopeful, and grateful vision of the future.
Although she was unsure of what she wanted to do in life, Marti loves where she ended up: “What UNO has done is … give me incredible opportunities to learn, to grow, to develop personally and professionally, to feel like I have made a difference” (Interview 2012). When asked what her biggest contribution to UNO has been, she unhesitatingly responds, “Making a difference in students’ lives … helping them know that they can do it and that they matter” (Interview 2012). She loves the students she works with and takes delight in watching them grow and overcome challenges throughout their college experience. “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity” is a Chinese Proverb that Marti shares with students and has often found to be apt in her own life; her advice to future generations of Mavericks is to “lay the foundation and keep your eyes open, take risks” (Interview 2012). Reflecting on her career at UNO, she says with passion, “Whatever I’ve given, I’ve received a hundredfold. It has just been a tremendous journey” (Interview 2011).