Martha Elizabeth Rogers was born on May 12, 1914; sharing a birthday with Florence Nightingale. She began her academic career when she entered the University of Tennessee in Knoxville in 1931 where she remained for 2 years.
She stated that: "I took the science-med course. It was more substantial than straight pre-med and included more science and maths. I took psychology, French, Zoology, Genetics, Embryology and many other courses" (Hektor, 1989).
However, she didn’t complete the course, instead she entered nursing school at Knoxville General Hospital in September 1933. She received her nursing diploma in 1936 and her Bachelor of Science degree in Public Health Nursing form the George Peabody College in Nashville in 1937 and then became a public health nurse in rural Michigan where she stayed for 2 years before returning to further study. In 1945 she earned her master’s degree from Teacher’s College Columbia University, New York. She then became a public health nurse in Hartford, CT, advancing from staff nurse to acting Director of Education. After this she established and eventually became the Executive Director of the first Visiting Nurse Service in Phoenix, AZ. She left Arizona in 1951 and returned to school at the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore MD.