Merced College’s April Student of the Month is Jessica Rodriguez.
In 2004 Rodriguez’s grandmother was in a coma with a brain tumor and Rodriquez’s mother had moved to Costa Mesa for four years to take care of her. She was left to take care of her newborn sister and 9-year-old brother, as well as household and her father. This was working full-time and taking a full load of classes at Merced College.
As a result, her grades slipped and she had to withdraw from some of her classes. Her father had also been admitted to the hospital’s ICU unit for a month. To help cope, Rodriguez took up photography.
As her family’s health improved, Rodriguez decided to work fewer hours and focus on her education. By spring 2011, she had brought her grade point average up to 2.98. Rodriguez said her grandmother’s battle with cancer had a huge impact on not only her life but on the whole family. She began research on the types of cancer after speaking to a few of her grandmother’s nurses. She decided that she wanted to help others with cancer and adopted a goal of becoming a registered nurse in the field of oncology.
“Merced College has been a great motivator, and when I mean Merced College I speak about the faculty,” Rodriquez said.
Rodriquez enrolled in Professor Cary Coburn’s human biology course and earned A. She followed up this by earning an A in human anatomy during the summer term.
“Although some personal issues deleteriously affected her academic progress in the past, Jessica was able to turn her life around and now pursues her academic responsibilities with a renewed sense of focus and determination that is unique among her peers,” Coburn said.
Rodriguez’s plans for the future are to transfer to a CSU campus for her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.“I’ve proven to myself that I can do it and I have the support of my family which is a huge help,” she said. “I’m very grateful for the people that I have met. Not only have they changed me, they’ve changed my while entire view of life and for that I’ll always be thankful.”