But the road to get there was not easy. She recalled that she didn’t even think about college until she was in the 11th grade. She did not know how to choose the right school, and ended up at Brooklyn College.
“That was so foreign to me,” she said. “I was there for a year and a half, and I was miserable.
“I was lost in terms of my classes and where to go,” she added. “And no one looked like me.”
As the principal of PS 84 for the last nine years, in the same neighborhood where she was born and raised, Rodriguez now works to ensure her students are fully prepared for college.
PS 84 students begin in pre-kindergarten and go through the 8th grade. Every step of the way, they are immersed in a college-going culture.
The school also keeps parents informed about the college process, including the financial aspect of it.
“My parents didn’t know about financial aid or applying for scholarships,” Rodriguez said.
Not only are they prepared for college, but for future careers as well. Rodriguez said she wants her students to have the same opportunities as anyone else in the city.
“I just want my students to know it’s so much broader out there,” she said. “Especially now in the 21st century, there are so many opportunities and so many jobs.”
Last week, Chancellor Richard Carranza visited the school for College Awareness Day. Students engaged in activities to learn more about different colleges and universities.
Rodriguez said the chancellor’s visit to the school affirms the the experience for her students.
“Having the chancellor visit and knowing they’re making a big deal about the work they’re doing is validating,” she said.