Success by Degree
Martha Perez Cox believes she should never be considered a role model, but her work ethic, her personable nature and her sense of humor counter that personal belief.
As bursar for Angelo State University, Cox oversees the collection of tuition and fees from students, departmental deposits and various loan programs. Additionally, the Bursar’s Office invoices organizations that receive services from ASU. In the business world, she would be known as a treasurer.
On campus, she is known as an avid Rambelles softball fan and a manager with a light touch in an office where the sound of laughter is as common as the click of the keypad on the calculators of the five women she supervises.
“The fun part about my job,” said Cox, “is that we get to know students. We build a relationship with students and, with the group that I have, we work so well together that it’s never boring to come to work.
“The students can see we have a fun relationship, a close relationship,” she continued. “A lot of students have told us ‘we like to come to your office even though we have to pay money because you seem to have so much fun.’”
“It is not the good times that make a person. It is the bad times that show the strength of an individual.”
Life, though, may not always be fun and laughter as she learned at an early age when her parents divorced.
“Divorce is one of the hardest trials a family can go through,” she said. “It can certainly make or break a person. Luckily, with the help of both of my parents and my longtime friend and former teacher, Donna Oehler, I persevered. They provided me with the best advice family and friends could give, which is that you should always strive for the best, work hard and success will find you. My dad always said, ‘Work hard and you’ll succeed in the end.’”
Cox enrolled at ASU for a semester, but decided it was not right for her at the time. So, she used the work ethic her parents and mentor had instilled in her to succeed. She worked first for Mitsubishi Aircraft until she was laid off, then took a job with Home Savings & Loan Association in Midland. The night before she left for Midland for her new job, she met Roy Cox, who ultimately became her husband of 27 years. She returned to San Angelo to marry Cox and worked at a local financial institution before applying for an ASU job.
In 1989, Cox was hired as head cashier in the Student Accounts Office, working there for five years. She then accepted a position in the Financial Aid Office as a scholarship coordinator, later being promoted to accounts manager in 1998. Five years later, Cox became bursar of the Student Accounts Office. Since then, Cox has been nominated twice for the Staff Excellence Award, winning it in 2003. She also has served a one-year term on the Staff Senate and on the hospitality committees for various national and regional athletic events hosted by ASU.
“I feel very blessed to be where I am now,” Cox said. “I think I am one of the few and far between that has had an opportunity to be where I am without a college degree. There are very few opportunities like that now. The opportunity to climb the career ladder without the benefit of a college degree has been a personal success story for me.”
Her success opened the doors for her husband, who for many years was a San Angelo radio personality, to go to ASU and get his degree in education, even though it meant a few years of being a single-income family.
“The sacrifices and hardships we went through paid off when Roy obtained his teaching degree in May 2002, and he has been an elementary school teacher now for 10 years at Reagan Elementary School,” Cox said. “It is not the good times that make a person. It is the bad times that show the strength of an individual.”
“It was tough, but it was worthwhile when Roy received his degree. I’m the prime example of why our students should obtain a degree,” she continued. “That’s why Roy and I instilled in our kids that they needed a college education.”
Her daughter, Jessica, earned her associate’s degree in 2010 and with her husband, Justin Semlinger, is expecting her first child in July. Cox’s son, Joshua, is pursuing a music degree at the University of Texas-San Antonio.
“My message to all ASU students,” said Cox, “is don’t give up. You can do it. It’s not always going to be easy because life is not always easy, but it can be easier with a college degree.”