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Never too late: Minturn mom graduates from Colorado Mountain College

Emily Martinez checked off ice climbing from her bucket list, which continues to grow and evolve.
Special to the Daily |

MINTURN — When Emily Martinez lost her mother to cancer, she took a long, hard look at life.

“Losing her — I was 32 — it was really hard because we were really close,” Martinez said. “It just made me realize how short life is. She was only 54.”

Her mother had said she wished she’d gone to Nashville, something simple in her daughter’s eyes.



“It’s not like asking to go to the moon,” she said.

With two kids of her own, Martinez vowed to push them to fulfill anything their hearts desired. She didn’t want money, or time, to be a hindrance. Eventually Martinez’s daughter asked her what she wanted from life.



And the bucket list was born. Skydiving, rock climbing, salsa dancing — the list goes on and on and continues to grow. Some things she’s already checked off, including getting a bachelor’s degree.

“I just decided to take a drive over to Colorado Mountain College and fill out the application to go back to school, and then I started making a bucket list of anything and everything I wanted to do,” she said.

Martinez, now 41 with two jobs and two kids also taking classes, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business from CMC in Edwards in May.



The five-year process at CMC brought the Martinez family together, as Emily and her two children, Trista and Robert, were also attending classes, some of them with their mom.

“We saw her struggle, which was hard,” Trista said. “But she never once gave up, which was awesome. It taught myself and my brother to strive and push hard to achieve our goals just as our mom did.”

Emily excelled at CMC, earning scholarships from the college and the town of Minturn, which helped when she was also paying for Trista and Robert to go to school, she said.

Emily juggled working two jobs, taking classes and being mom.

“I’d have my books on my lap. Whenever (Robert) was up for a wrestling match, I’d watch, and then go right back to studying,” she said.

While in school, Emily took classes with both Trista and Robert. And they’ve also been along for other bucket list items.

“That’s probably the best part about me experiencing all of this and doing this bucket list.” Emily said.

While Emily said she’s looking forward to taking the summer off, there’s no time off for the bucket list. And she’s also got more scholarship money left over, so she’s considering going back to take some sustainability classes.

“She was actually bringing up some of her bucket list items last night,” Trista said, “going to Austin and Nashville, and Italy. And if she’s going to do it, we want to be there to do it with her.”

Reporter Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2915 and rleonhart@vaildaily.com. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.


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