Spotlight on a Scholar: Erik Rodriguez
PGLA: Who would you say had the biggest impact on you in high school?
Erik: My English teacher, Mr. Martin. I came in from middle school, and I was kind of an average student. I did not feel very special. And then in 9th grade, he said to me, “You really have a talent for writing.” I didn’t know that before. It really gave me the confidence boost I needed. And then after that, I just told myself that I could do better in all my classes, and I ended up doing better. Mr. Martin also wrote this amazing recommendation letter for me. He’s always been there to talk to and drops whatever he is doing to help me out.
PGLA: You participated in the Advanced Summer College Institute residential program at Marymount a year ago. Can you tell us a little bit about what that was like for you?
Erik: It was really fun. It was a great experience being away from home for a month. Gave me a real sense for the college experience. You have to clean up after yourself, because you don’t have your mom cleaning up after you anymore. You really have to be on top of your game. The course we took, too. Some of the things were very eye-opening because it had to do with social injustices. The whole experience in general was great actually. I mean, I made a lot of new friends, and that was a big thing for me.
PGLA: Can you talk about what kind of work you have done with Project GRAD’s Eliana Mendoza (College Success Advisor) in preparing for college?
Erik: She really became my friend. In terms of college, she always let me decide. She wouldn’t say, “You have to go here, or you better apply here.” She was always on top of me, even though sometimes I didn’t listen. She told me every day about deadlines; she helped me with my essay and everything. I don’t know where I would be without her. Actually, just today she gave me a Planner that she bought for me. I mentioned I needed help with my time management, and then she bought me a planner, which I thought was very cool. We are going to be going over it every week. Even if I miss a deadline, she’s not one to say, “Why did you do that?” She is very understanding. She’s very helpful, she’s always willing to drop everything and help me.
PGLA: How many other schools besides MIT did you apply to?
Erik: I applied to 4 CSU’s and 4 UC’s.
PGLA: Immediately, after you found out you were accepted into MIT, did you decide right away or did you take some time?
Erik: It took a full day to decide actually. At first, I was taking it in, “Okay, I got into a school that’s 3,000 miles away.” But then, I don’t know, I saw it as this amazing opportunity in front of me. I had to take it. And that’s when I decided to go. Yeah. It’s still pretty scary though.
PGLA: What are you most looking forward to about MIT?
Erik: The environment, because I’ve talked to some alumni and the way they’ve talked about it, it just sounds awesome. And then, it’s a very heavy course work but everybody is under this heavy course load and everyone is working together. Everyone is stressing out together and, I don’t know, I’m glad that's how it’s going to be. I imagine any world as an engineering major will be very, very busy.
PGLA: So what is your future career goal?
Erik: I’d really like to be an engineer. I want to focus on something with the environment, so more like energy conversion. Trying to make cleaner energy. I really want to work on solar panel technology and whatever innovation comes next.
*Come to our 11th Annual Scholarship Celebration to meet Erik and all of the Scholars from the class of 2013!