Student receives prestigious scholarship after adversity
One by one, Linda Rodriguez crossed them off in her head.
North Campus Honors College student: check.
Deputy Head delegate for the College's Model United Nations: check.
A member of Phi Theta Kappa: check.
With each announced accolade, Rodriguez's nervousness grew.
She could feel herself sinking into her seat.
Then it hit her.
“I knew it was me when they said the winner had a 3.94 GPA and [majored] in political science,” said Rodriguez, 20. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Rodriguez, who at 17 found herself temporarily homeless, had won the nationally coveted Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship — a $60,000 award.
The announcement was made before thousands of people on May 1, during the commencement ceremony for Miami Dade College’s North and West campuses.
Rodriguez watched it all unfold from her fourth-row seat on the floor of the BankUnited Center.
“I was so nervous and excited,” Rodriguez said.
Hundreds of students from across the nation compete for the scholarship each year. Rodriguez is the fifth MDC student to receive the award. North Campus students have won it the past two years.
Former Falcon Times managing editor and Honors College student, Anahi Cortada— currently a junior at Georgetown University in Washington D.C— won it in 2009.
“It’s another proud year,” North Campus President Dr. José Vicente exuberantly announced.
Rodriguez had a lot to be excited about, but the road has not been easy.
When she was 17 years old, Rodriguez’s parents were forced to move to Newark, Ohio because of financial reasons.
Rodriguez decided to stay in Miami with her oldest sister; she would eventually be forced to search for a place of her own.
That didn’t deter her. She graduated magna cum laude from Barbara Goleman Senior High School in 2008.
“Everything she has accomplished has been on her own. It's not easy not having your parents. I am so proud of her, she has never given up,” said Rodriguez’s mother—Linda Ann Rodriguez, 60—who traveled from Ohio to attend her daughter’s graduation. “Even with so many miles between us, she has always held her course, playing one card at a time.”
Today, Rodriguez sees her family about twice a year and rents a room at her boyfriend's — Yans Campos, 20— parent’s home.
“I really can’t complain,” Rodriguez said. “[They] have been phenomenal to me. They treat me like a daughter.”
To make ends meet, Rodriguez has worked several jobs at a time, despite tackling a rigorous school schedule in MDC’s Honors College. She currently works as a student assistant in the social science department.
“These jobs have given me skills that I’d probably never find anywhere else. My jobs have made me competitive, given me patience and the perfect work ethic,”
Rodriguez said. “Even though I’m not able to volunteer or attend most events at school, I am very gracious to know that I have gained so much.”
Rodriguez is poised to gain even more.
She plans to study sociology at Georgetown University. Eventually, she wants to attend law school and become a judge.
Rodriguez, who has 10 nieces and nephews, wants to be an advocate for children’s rights.
“I want to bring a smile to every child in a different way,” she said.
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