CHADRON – Chadron State College student Paola Rodriguez is the February Project Strive/TRiO Student of the Month. Rodriguez, a junior Social Work major, calls both Marquette, Nebraska, and San Martin, Mexico, home.
Rodriguez said a CSC admissions representative who visited her community college introduced her to the college. And, after learning about the idea of Social Work in a human resources class, she said CSC’s program became a good fit.
“It felt like everything was leading me to CSC’s Social Work program,” Rodriguez said. “I want to help people and help make a change in someone’s life. I really enjoy working with kids and elderly people.”
Associate Professor of Social Work Rich Kenney Jr. said Rodriguez is a pleasure to have in class.
“Paola is one of the most conscientious students I have ever worked with,” Kenney said. “She submits quality work for every assignment, often going beyond what is required. She is also an active participant in all classroom discussions and very polite and respectful of her peers.”
Rodriguez said she and her fellow Social Work Club members visited Crestview Care Center every other Thursday last year to assist residents with shopping or to play Bingo. The group even partnered with the International Club, another campus organization Rodriguez is in, during the 2019 Big Event to provide a fashion show for residents.
As the president of the International Club, Rodriguez said she is familiar with the people of Chadron wanting to learn about her Mexican heritage.
“The residents really love learning about international students and seeing the traditional clothing,” Rodriguez said. “At the Dine with Us luncheons and the International Food Tasting Party, people really enjoy learning about our cultures and many of us are very passionate about sharing it.”
During February’s International Food Tasting Party, Jennifer Schaer, director of Project Strive/TRiO, and Claudia Magnusson, TRiO academic advisor, announced that Rodriguez was the February Student of the Month.
Magnusson said Rodriguez is very committed, self-disciplined, and a motivated student who works hard and helps others.
Rodriguez said she was not expecting the honor and the program and its staff are there to help her and any of its members succeed in all areas.
“Project Strive is a program that will guide you and give you opportunities to succeed in college,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez is also a member of the Activities Fee Board, works night-shift security, and serves as a Residence Adviser (RA). She said being an RA has provided some of her most fulfilling opportunities.
“Becoming an RA really helped me to get out of my comfort zone, and that has helped me get to know a lot of people and help them, which is something I am passionate about,” Rodriguez said.
After graduating in spring 2021, Rodriguez plans to get a master’s degree in Social Work.
Chadron State College’s Project Strive/TRiO program, located in the lower level of the King Library, is an academic enrichment program committed to help students succeed. Project Strive also focuses on career exploration, cultural and social enrichment and self-awareness. To be eligible for the program, a student must be one of the following: A first generation student where neither parent has a four-year degree, meet low income status based on U.S. Department of Health and Human Services criteria, or have a documented disability. For more information, visit https://www.csc.edu/projectstrive/.
—Kelsey R. Brummels, College Relations