Miami Dade College Student Bianca Rodriguez Starts Youth Initiative to Help Local Middle School Students Explore Social Injustices through the Fine Arts
Miami, January 30, 2014 -
Bianca Rodriguez always knew that she wanted to empower youth. “I saw a lot of institutionalized racism and unfair disbursement of wealth,” said the 24-year-old. As a springboard to her dreams, the Miami Dade College (MDC) Hialeah Campus student was one of a few students nationally to be selected for the prestigious 2013-2014 Young People For Fellowship. The year-long program provides passionate young leaders, like Rodriguez, with the tools to effect positive change in their communities. “It was very enlightening,” Rodriguez said. “I met a lot of like-minded individuals.”
As part of the fellowship, the English major started Art Critically (AC), an afterschool program that helps local kids explore social injustice issues through the fine arts. “I love education and I love the arts, so I thought what better way to do both.”
AC began in September and currently serves 50 students at Andover Middle School in Miami Gardens. “They reflect then paint, draw or create plays, then come up with creative solutions,” said Rodriguez. Discrimination and crime are just a few of the issues expressed by students.
With AC, Rodriguez and her team of volunteers carefully devised the curriculum to reflect the needs of the community. Rodriguez also has plans to expand and has formed alliances with the I Have a Dream Foundation and the Opa-Locka Community Development Corporation.
While juggling school, work and a non-profit is challenging, Rodriguez said “I am rewarded every day for my efforts by the smiles on my students' faces and by the simple fact that every day I see them growing into socially aware and intelligent young men and women.”
An aspiring English professor, Rodriguez serves as editor-in-chief of the Hialeah campus’ literary magazine Cafe Cultura. She’s won numerous awards for her poetry and expects to graduate with her associate degree in English this spring.
“Bianca Rodriguez is a highly creative, intellectually curious student,” said MDC associate professor Dr. Ivonne Lamazares, who is a co-adviser for Café Cultura. “She is a very ethical, empathetic person, and her work with underprivileged students through Art Critically, is a tremendous contribution and speaks to her commitment to making a difference in her community.”
For more information on Art Critically, visit www.artcritically.org.
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