Debra Rodriguez P’18 has been a member of the Parents Leadership Council—along with her husband, Ricardo—for three years. Enthusiastic about attending concerts and sporting events at the college, she relishes the opportunity to, as she puts it, "be involved in an organization that develops leaders using sports as a platform." In addition to her service to the college, she enjoys snow- and water-skiing as well as traveling with her family. "Traveling opens up our world to different cultures and allows us to learn different ways of life," she says. "This has enriched us as a family."
How has Dickinson benefitted your student?
Dickinson has shined in so many ways. The small class size allowed my daughter to not just be a number but to also be a valued student in each class, while developing close, personal relationships that will stay with her a lifetime. Her professors helped to advise her and push her outside of her comfort zone, which enabled her to grow and challenge herself outside of the classroom. The study abroad program, which was one of the biggest draws to Dickinson, enabled her to travel abroad in Spain. That experience allowed her to develop a close relationship with her host family and the students she traveled with. It opened her up to a global view of learning and culture.
The college's rich history and committment to the liberal arts have also stood out. The ability to draw upon the past and apply it to the challenges of today is what keeps the education at Dickinson grounded. The college's liberal-arts approach also has allowed my daughter to explore different subjects, giving her a grounded core curriculum while she developed her passion and formulated what her future may hold. She was able to see many different, diverse views while staying true to her beliefs.
What inspired your giving to Dickinson?
We became passionate about giving to Dickinson for a multitude of reasons. Dickinson’s commitment to making college affordable to as many students as possible is invaluable. This creates a rich, diverse environment for learning. The college’s ability to provide experiences outside of the classroom through externships and internships helps create a well-rounded student. Also, giving financially helps Dickinson to focus on what is most pressing to our students while crafting a useful learning environment.
Why do you feel that it is important to give back to Dickinson?
These students are our future. In a world that is so polarized, it is important for students to learn different points of view while being respectful to one another. The ability to listen and learn from professors and other students despite one's background has enriched the educational experience. I have found this to be true for my daughter. It is invaluable as she starts her journey outside of college.
What is your favorite story of your child’s experience at Dickinson?
There are many. However, I think the one that touches my heart the most is about one of her professors. He had noticed that her trend in learning was strongest in the middle of the semester. He brought this to her attention and offered ways to sustain a strong learning trend throughout the semester. I was so impressed that a professor took the time to get to know her, understand the way she learns and offer his support.
What advice would you give to today’s students?
If serving is beneath you, then leadership is beyond you. Keep your heart open to serve mankind. That’s where your rewards of the heart will be fulfilled, and no one can ever take that away from you.
Published September 17, 2018