Two days after Dario Martinez graduated from high school, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. At just 17, he wasn’t old enough to sign his contract himself, so his mom had to sign it for him.
Not long after that, Dario left his home in Alamosa, Colorado, to become a Marine, eventually deploying to Afghanistan and becoming a marksman team leader.
He didn’t know it at the time, but signing up for the military as a teenager eventually would lead Dario to a career in healthcare. That’s because he saw many of his fellow veterans become addicted to prescription medications.
“Unfortunately, a lot of my peers didn’t do so well,” he said. “Their struggles made me want to learn more about medications.”
Dario discovered he could make a difference by studying pharmacy at the CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. It’s that dedication to the profession and his military service that led Dario to become the first recipient of the C.David Elm Pharmacy Practice Scholarship, which is awarded to active or former members of the U.S. Armed Forces or their dependents.
David Elm, PhD, a legendary former CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy faculty member and the namesake of the scholarship, said Dario was exactly the type of student he had in mind when he created a scholarship a CU. “He’s the perfect fit for what that scholarship is meant to be,” Elm said. “He chose to go into the military and chose the Marine Corps. You couldn’t ask someone to do more than that.”
The scholarship reached a major milestone when more than 50 benefactors joined together to raise $100,000. The fundraising goal, originally set in March 2018, was met on Dr. Elm’s 80th birthday in January this year. This success means that veterans or their dependents will benefit from the scholarship for years to come.
Dario, 2020 doctor of pharmacy graduate, said he’s excited about how the scholarship impacts future students because he knows that receiving the award goes beyond financial support.
“It was a great honor — not just to get the scholarship, but getting to meet Dr. Elm,” said Dario. “He’s such a great guy. His mentorship since that day has been
phenomenal. I couldn’t have been happier to have met him.”
Throughout his career and since his retirement, Elm has been known for mentorship.
Starting in 1978 as the manager of the Apothecary — the full-service professional pharmacy at CU Boulder’s Wardenburg Health Center — Elm guided and taught more than a thousand pharmacists who went on to serve patients in every corner of the state. When the university approached him about establishing a scholarship in his name, Elm was certain that he wanted the award to honor those who have served.
“They have, in essence, signed a blank check to our country, payable if needed with their lives,” Elm said. “There is no greater call to duty than to put yourself in harm’s way to serve your country.”
Elm knows the impact of military service on a personal level. His son, Jason, served in both Gulf Wars, and his grandson, Dave, is serving in the Army Reserve. Additionally, his brother-in-law, Lt. Gen. James Gordon Roudebush, served as the 19th Surgeon General of the U.S. Air Force.
Dario said he knows future recipients of the scholarship will be linked by Elm’s commitment and mentorship.
“I’m really excited to see what this scholarship is going to do for future students and the type of community it’s going to develop for the recipients moving forward,” Dario said.
The impact is clear for the newest recipient of the scholarship, third-year pharmacy student Mario Careaga, a six-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Mario said, “I’m grateful for this scholarship, which acknowledges veterans and their families – the support of whom is invaluable and deserves recognition. I will do my best to show my appreciation through the work I put in this year and those to come.”