In a recent trip to Jamaica, Jessica Belen Rodriguez met children with beaming smiles despite not having arms, crawling across the floor to get around. These childre nshowed her that anyone can be happy regardless of life’s circumstances.
That same lesson has been a recurring message in the life of this young Mexican who at 22 has faced many challenges.
Jessica recently graduated from Oglethorpe University where she studied biology, psychology and sociology. As Deferred Action recipient, recieving a degree was an answer to her prayers.
“Finding out we would be prohibited from attending many of Georgia’s public universities was discouraging for me,” said Rodriguez, a standout Campbell High School alumnus. But she received a full-tuition scholarship that set her future in motion.
The grant also included a trip which she used to return to Mexico, the country she left at the age of 6. She served as a volunteer at Mexico’s Teleton, a fundraising event to support children with disabilities and chronic diseases.
While in her homeland, Rodriguez helped children suffering from illnesses and physical disabilities. That led to getting involved with Missionaries of Charity and traveling to Jamaica and Costa Rica to offer basic medical services and train volunteers in poverty-stricken communities.
Rodriguez has found her mission by serving others.
She was recently accepted to Georgetown University where she will pursue a master’s in global health.
Rodriguez is focused on her dream of studying medicine. But she also looks to her past as a reminder of all she has accomplished. She’s thankful for her family’s hard work in the fields, in cleaning, and in construction, as well as the intervention of God who she credits for shaping her vision.
Rodriguez is also active at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Smyrna where Father Jaime Molina remembers a young girl who demonstrated a commitment and responsibility to the less fortunate.
“She feels great gratitude. She’s a young woman who is not arrogant, whose feet are on solid ground and always takes into consideration all of us who have been a part of her life and in her personal growth,” said Molina. “I’m extremely proud of her. I believe her gratitude is what has driven her to the success she has achieved,” Molina said.
Nick Spates, Buckhead Rotary Club member and advisor for Oglethorpe University, interviewed Rodriguez as a candidate for the Otis Jackson Scholarship program that was sponsored by the club.
“She was hands down the most outstanding candidate. She won the scholarship for her outstanding community involvement and commitment to personal and educational excellence,” Spates said. “I whole-heartedly wish her nothing but the best as she pursues her graduate degree in public health and continues on to become a medical doctor. I know armed with education and the appropriate medical credentials she will make it her life mission to help those in need.”
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CONTINUED COVERAGEEach Saturday look for a feature story from our media partners at Mundo Hispanico that highlights an aspect of the Hispanic community. For a closer look at its content, go to www.mundohispanico.com or contact editors and reporters directly at 404-881-0441.