Name: Nenetzin Rodriguez
Host Site: Cal Poly Pomona, College of Engineering
Alma Mater: University of California, Riverside
Major: B.S. in Anthropology, Minor in Music
Background: When I started at the University of California, Riverside in fall 2008, I was a History major. In high school I was always fascinated with different cultures. During my freshmen year, I took my first anthropology course, and I felt more connected to the subject than anything I had learned previously. Anthropology was the lens I could use to answer my questions and investigate my curiousities. I also wanted to do something lively during this time so I joined the UCR orchestra for four years playing the violin and minoring in music. Performing in a music group was uplifting during my college years. I became active with student groups on campus after I attended a workshop on mental health. I became
a peer educator with a student group called Golden ARCHES. For my junior and senior year, I worked on student health-related campaigns, services, and events. I learned about student wellness through attending panels on sexual health, fitness, and the cognitive effects of drugs and alcohol. I engaged with the student community to discuss sensitive topics and was exposed the challenges surrounding student personal health. UCR brought color to the four years of studying, growing, and facing challenges as a young adult. After graduating I didn’t have a clue on what kind of career I wanted in anthropology. Friends from college had joined a national/state AmeriCorps program called City Year, and I saw many social media posts about their rewarding experiences. I applied and was offered a position as a corps member in Providence, RI. I packed three suitcases and flew across the country to the East Coast. I tutored and mentored 5th grade students at Carl G. Lauro Elementary. I worked with them on reading, math, behavior, and attendance. My favorite part was creating fun and interactive lessons that engaged my students. The most challenging part of my year was helping my students improve their behavior. Even though I struggled in the beginning, I never wanted to give up, which helped my students trust me. Ms. Swepson’s and Mrs. Bonstante’s classes became my family in Providence. My favorite memory is drawing pictures of flowers and laughing with Jakaira, Melanie, Jayderi, Vanesa, Jayrez, Daliyah, Katherine, Noemi and Kelley. Through this experience, I grew as an individual and lived in an environment different from that of my upbringing. I had many laughs, cries, frustrations and smiles through my City Year journey. The students’ academic struggles were my motivation to continue to work in schools that lacked support and resources.
Why I serve: I serve as an AmeriCorps member because I want to support communities that don’t have the same advantages as others. Through AmeriCorps I’ve been able to travel, meet new friends, and work on amazing projects. I applied for a second year with AmeriCorps because I wanted experience in higher education, and I now work as part of a growing initiative to support females in STEM.
Ah-ha moment: When I stepped into Cal Poly Pomona College of Engineering, it was clear I was out of my comfort zone. I felt a little discouraged working in the College of Engineering because I had no prior experience with the subject. But I didn’t give up. Seeing engineering students create STEM projects for K-12 students is fascinating, and observing the instruction of engineering activities in middle and high school has inspired me to continue learning about the different STEM subjects.
Advice: My advice is to learn from your mistakes and never stop challenging yourself. As simple as it sounds, it’s difficult to put yourself in uncomfortable situations. But overcoming obstacles is a step toward growing as an individual. Situations won’t be overwhelming if you take each experience with a grain of salt. Your progress and effort are more rewarding than the prize at the end.