Upcoming graduate values degree through hardship and triumph


Jonathon Duarte

Senior corporate and organizational communication major Alberto Rodrgiuez this December.

Jose Soto, Entertainment Editor

Graduating from college is a milestone in any student’s life. It is a rewarding experience where all of your scholastic efforts and daily struggles to stay on top of your schoolwork and tasks finally come to fruition. Alberto Rodriguez, a graduating corporate and organizational communication major, knows all too well how it is to finally see all of their hard work pay off.

“College has been a lifetime experience,” Rodriguez said. “I experienced a handful of events that really defined me as a person.”

Like many, Rodriguez found his scholarly niche by simply experiencing the many aspects of college life.

“My major was pretty much a go with the flow kind of thing,” Rodriguez said. “I help out with a debate team, in which I was exposed to public speaking and debate. I knew from there I wanted to somehow be involved with communications. Also, I also have always envied Samantha Jones from ‘Sex and the City,’ and coming to realize she worked in public relations, I too realized that is what I wanted to do. Luckily, mainstream television did me good as it led me to do exactly what I wanted to do.”

Although he is about to close the collegiate chapter of his life, Rodriguez also recognizes that it wasn’t entirely a path of roses.

“I lost everything,” said Rodriguez.  “I lost my car, apartment, a job. I was literally left with nothing at one point while going through college. I was at the point where I was hospitalized due to how bad things had come to. I don’t count with the support of my family due to our differences, so I had to go through this by myself, but above it all, I never dropped out. “

Rodriguez battled depression and a chronic disease, but refused to drop out school. School was the only thing he had at one point and was the only thing that kept him going and focused.

He realized while going through all this that life does not stop for anyone, that either you find your way through it or it will take you with it.  That’s how he got to the point of graduation.

Just like Rodriguez, every student has felt the pressure of finishing school projects and passing exams. Rodriguez said that is actually a feeling he enjoys.

“The stress was actually enjoyable,”

Rodriguez said.  “Having the anxiety of presenting your final project, brand analysis, campaign or marketing idea and knowing you’re about to be criticized to the ground by it. That has by far been the best feeling, you hate it when you feel it, but then you realize you feel nervous, stress, anxious because you care, then you value it.”

Just like many college students, Rodriguez had to balance his school with his work life.

“Working and going to school at the same time was challenging, but it’s also a time management lesson,” Rodriguez said. “You understand what needs to be taken care of and what can wait. School always came first. I didn’t see myself without a college degree.”

Rodriguez plans to leave El Paso after graduation in order to pursue bigger ambitions, much like many UTEP graduates do.

“I need to finish working on me,” Rodriguez said. “Now that I am about to graduate, I plan to move to a bigger city to find a job, settle in, hopefully be accepted to a master’s program in the future, but mainly reinvent myself.”

Rodriguez said everyone’s college trajectory is different, so students need to figure out what works best for themselves. He said it is not only about getting good grades, but also building relationships along the way.

“Being a straight-A student will open some doors, but knowing the right people opens the right doors,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not about working harder, but about working smarter.  So go to it knowing where you want to be, at least an idea. Go to class, workwith others and make connections.

Jose Soto may be reached at [email protected]