Patricia Rodriguez wants to bring educational equity to underrepresented communities.
For our 25th anniversary, we are celebrating the alumni of our program who have continued to make meaningful and positive impacts on their communities long after workshops. Anyone familiar with PeerForward or College Summit is keenly aware of the crucial role our alumni play in our organization. They uplift, energize, and guide Peer Leaders along their path to postsecondary success; they are the role models who prove that college is an option for everyone and there is no limit to their dreams.
Throughout her studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Patricia Rodriguez still learned the most about her calling from her own community, “As a first-generation college student, I wanted to return to a community similar to mine and give back.” As a Sociology and Chicano/a Studies major, she is deeply knowledgeable about the degree attainment rates of Latinos in the United States and how education opportunity gaps contribute to deep racial and economic disparities across the United States.“As a college adviser, I am able to be a much-needed resource to students who don’t see higher education as attainable. I want to bring educational equity to underrepresented communities.”
Patricia began her journey with PeerForward in 2012, when the organization was still known as College Summit. Her summer workshop experience had an impact that followed her into the halls of Inglewood High School. “As a Peer Leader, I was motivated by College Summit to be a better peer to my classmates. College Summit motivated me to strive for more and believe in my own success.” Her motivation to be a source of positive peer influence led her to serve as an Alumni Leader as soon as she was able,
“As an Alumni Leader, the impact College Summit had on my personal and professional life was even greater. During summer workshops, I was able to become a mentor to a multitude of students. I realized my story mattered and impacted students who came from similar backgrounds as mine. I knew then I wanted to continue to impact the lives of young people by bringing resources and much-needed knowledge.”
Patricia continued to serve as an Alumni Leader for several summer workshops, acting as a role model to underserved students across Southern California. Her experience helped her tour campuses outside her alma mater, like California State University, Lutheran, and the University of Redlands. With her experience as an Alumni Leader and first-generation student, Patricia felt confident in her next steps. She would become a college adviser and utilize her skills, knowledge, and influence to guide younger first-generation students through their postsecondary journey.
“I began my job as a college adviser to bring knowledge to high school students. My own educational struggles motivated me at first, but now the students I work with are my motivation. I am motivated by their constant need to know and learn more.”
PeerForward instills in every person who serves the organization – from Peer Leaders to volunteers to staff – that every student deserves postsecondary success, no matter their socioeconomic status. Patricia’s career and dedication to ensuring that low-income students of color have equal access to a college education is evidence that our mission has power.
“Postsecondary education has been historically more available to students from affluent communities. Low-income students, most of the time, come from backgrounds that don’t have a college culture present. A lack of college culture does not mean a lack of potential. Low-income students can make a generational change by attending institutions of higher education.”
Patricia exemplifies the leadership and service we continue to see from PeerForward Alumni. Their careers reflect a dedication to service that began when a group of influential teenagers met at a summer workshop and pledged to create a college-going culture at their high school.
“Through College Summit, I was able to learn success doesn’t just come from acting on your dreams but also from reflecting on your life. As a Peer Leader and Alumni Leader, I was part of sessions that allowed you to reflect on your challenges and personal obstacles. I applied this to my undergraduate years and professional life. I have learned to reflect on my own challenges and obstacles to become bigger and better.”