Meet this week’s Centennial Stars

Two staffers blend substantial skill with great enthusiasm

To celebrate the Rice Centennial, this year the university will honor 100 staff members who represent the best of Rice culture. Each week, two Centennial Stars will be recognized for their contributions to excellence, and we’ll introduce them in Rice News.

The behind-the-scenes efforts of this week’s Centennial Stars make life and work easier for their Rice colleagues every day. They are Suzanne Martinez, accounting and financial analyst in Information Technology Business and Planning, and Mikael Berhe, technician supervisor in the parking office.

Martinez was hired in 2006 as a temporary accounting and budget analyst in IT’s Administrative, Planning and Finance Department. A couple of months later, she was hired into her current position as accounting and financial analyst.

Martinez shows a commitment to Rice “not only in her words, but by her actions of following through time and time again,” said the letter that nominated Martinez.

Suzanne Martinez

Suzanne Martinez

She is responsible for billing and cost recovery for IT’s division services: Technical Services, Web Services, IT Project Management, AV Events and Cable.

“She is highly dependable, strives to produce the greatest return for all parties and displays fresh enthusiasm with whatever she encounters,” the letter said.

Martinez often goes above and beyond required duties. She has volunteered several times to do IT prep for the President’s Town Hall meeting, has served on IT’s Employee Activity committee and has interacted with students in campus classes.

“She possesses a unique combination of skills and promotes ‘going the extra mile’ in all that she does,” the letter said.

Martinez is quick to recognize the needs of others and is consistently able to meet those needs. “She has made great strides in making her job look easy,” the letter said. “She helps IT deliver consistent and value-added services to our customers – faculty, staff and students.”

Berhe came to Rice in 2005 as a temporary store clerk in the campus store. When the store was contracted to Barnes & Noble, Berhe transferred to the parking office to become a temporary parking attendant, and within months his job as an attendant was made permanent.

In 2006, Berhe became a parking technician. “He was an obvious choice for the job, not only because of his skill set, but also because of his great character,” said the letter that nominated Berhe. In 2011 he was promoted to his current position as technician supervisor.

Mikael Berhe

Mikael Berhe

“Mikael’s impact on Rice is one parkers use every day they come to campus,” the letter said. He and his staff maintain and repair the campus parking gates to ensure the parking system runs smoothly.

Berhe’s skills have saved Rice “thousands of dollars year after year,” the letter said, because he can fix equipment on campus that used to be shipped out for repair. He is a natural technician and draws on his experience working for a railway company in Ethiopia, the letter said. “He says that fixing things comes naturally to him; it has been his training for as long as he can remember.”

Berhe is “one of those smiling and friendly people at Rice that make this place special,” the letter said. He is an excellent colleague, supervisor and employee.

“He not only does his job at a high level, he looks to help others in the department, too,” the letter said. “No matter what the task, he is willing to help.”

To nominate someone as a Centennial Star, go to For more information, contact Rebecca Millet at To view previous Centennial Stars, visit


About Alyson Ward

Alyson Ward is a writer in Public Affairs at Rice University.