Staff member Anselma Rodriguez's career has been a testament to her father's memory and the Brooklyn College ethic of giving back.

In the Name of Her Father

June 26, 2014

Anselma Rodriguez '73, '85 M.A. (center) meets with the most recent winners of the JBR Scholarship, Reubén Pérez (left) and César Ventura.

Since 1974, Anselma Rodriguez '73, '85 M.A., project manager in the Office of the Associate Provost for Academic Programs, has been serving the needs of the Brooklyn College students and dedicated to providing them with the best college experience. It is her devotion to her role, the college, and its students, faculty, and staff—as well as her generosity in the form of a scholarship—that earned Rodriguez the distinction of being honored at the 2014 Staff Appreciation Day festivities on June 19.

"If there is anything I want to make sure I impart to the students I mentor, it is this: If you need help, please come to me—but you have to promise that once you have been helped, you are going to then help somebody else," said Rodriguez.

Rodriquez and her family are the benefactors behind the Juan Bautista Rodriguez (JBR) Scholarship, created in honor of her father, who was a huge education advocate. The scholarship awards $1,000 to undergraduate and graduate Latino students in need who demonstrate academic excellence throughout their college career by maintaining a high GPA. They must also exemplify the spirit of giving through community engagement. Rodriguez, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, is acutely aware of the need to have access to an affordable and quality education. All seven of her parents' children have college degrees.

"Although the amount of the scholarship is modest, the intention is huge," she said. "It is intended to send the message to students that the community is behind them if they put in the work to succeed."

This year, there were two scholarship winners: César Ventura, a beneficiary of the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) memorandum, and Reubén Pérez, a member of the Black and Latino Male Initiative. Pérez, who is also president of the Hispanic Society, a member of the Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity, and scheduled to obtain his bachelor's degree in sociology and Puerto Rican and Latino studies in 2016, said that beyond the wonderful financial aspect, he is honored to receive a scholarship that represents such a positive, uplifting ethic.

"The Juan Bautista Rodriguez Scholarship symbolizes the importance of activism within one's own community—whether you're from a Latino/a neighborhood, Asian neighborhood, African-American neighborhood, or even an ethnically mixed neighborhood," he said. "As the 2014 recipient, I wish to perpetuate the standard constructed by Mr. Rodriquez and his family, and I hope to influence other students to engage in activities that will better themselves and their communities."

"Anselma's greatest trait, and what has allowed her to have a career at Brooklyn College spanning four decades, is the fact that she is an empathetic person who truly cares about the students and the college," said Terence Cheng, associate provost for academic affairs. "The JBR Scholarship is a much-needed opportunity for students that exemplify the traits and characteristics that not only define the spirit of the scholarship, but also match the values of our college."

Rodriguez and her family will be holding a private fundraiser in the hopes of expanding the scholarship's reach and help many more students in need.

"I'm not Melinda Gates," she said with a smile. "I don't have millions of dollars, but I'm a firm believer in the idea that you can still help from whatever level you're at when you have the support of community."

To find out more about the JBR Scholarship and how to apply, please visit the Office of Scholarships. To make a charitable donation to the JBR Scholarship, contact the Brooklyn College Foundation.

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