Being first brings the excitement of experiencing new events but also means facing the unknown. Such is the case for countless first-generation college students like Take Stock Broward Alumna, Dany Rodriguez.
After immigrating to the United States from Columbia, Rodriguez’s family settled in Broward County, Florida. While the family had long-sought freedom, they also faced significant challenges. The most significant burden was financial. “My family struggled all my life financially,” explained Rodriguez. “I remember one time [in 6th grade] my family was asked to provide school supplies, but we just couldn’t afford it.”
The financial pressure associated with raising three children was, at times, overwhelming for Rodriguez’s parents. Facing this reality, Rodriguez concluded that college was out of reach until a reading teacher introduced the scholar to Take Stock in Children.
Rodriguez was encouraged to apply and accepted to the Take Stock Broward program while a student at Seminole Middle School in Plantation, Florida. “At first, I was really shy. I was originally assigned a mentor, but we just didn’t have a connection,” said Rodriguez. During a school function, Rodriguez met Gigi Graves, a Student Success Coach with Take Stock in Children of Broward County. “I met Gigi and we instantly clicked. I asked her ‘Can you be my mentor?’” said Rodriguez. “I talked to her about my family and all my big decisions.” After high school Rodriguez pursued an associate degree and started a career as a Veterinary Technician, however, her mentor knew Rodriguez’s degree did not reflect her ambition.
With guidance and support from Take Stock in College, Rodriguez returned to Broward College to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing and graduated in May 2023. “As a sixth grader, I was so stressed. If someone would have said back then that I’d be here now, I would not have believed it,” said Rodriguez. Gainfully employed at Orlando Health and the mother of a 9-month-old son, Rodriguez is well-positioned for success.
After years of observing the family’s financial struggles and their inability to fulfill their dream of homeownership, purchasing a home was Rodriguez’s priority. She fulfilled that dream shortly after relocating to Orlando, Florida.
“Take Stock was life-changing. Gigi is more than my mentor, she is family,” concluded Rodriguez.