CSUSB to Harvard and back

By Renee Etcheberria |Staff Writer|

Louie Rodriguez, once a mentored Harvard student, has become an advocate inspiring students to strive beyond what they think they can achieve.

CSUSB’s Louie Rodriguez, Assistant Professor in Educational Leadership and Curriculum, has lived an inspiring story of success from his days at community college to his seven years at Harvard.

“I want students to know that I am like them. I am a first generation college student. I didn’t come from a family or community of college going people. Like many students, I was curious, eager, interested and hungry,” said Rodriguez.

Time management is the key that helped Rodriguez in his academic aspirations. Today, he finds that it is still relevant as he balances the work he is passionate about and the family life he loves.

The road toward being a successful professor and researcher was not always easy; he faced many challenges just as we all do throughout our college years.

“Surround yourself with people who will support you and push you,” Rodriguez said.

For Rodriguez, it was all about a support team that enabled him to overcome any struggles he faced. He relied on the moral support of his family members and the mentors he had through his college journey.

It was the success of his mentors like Lisa Gomez at San Bernardino Valley College and CSUSB’s David Chavez that really motivated him. They inspired him giving him the belief that he could also achieve such success and accomplishments.

Like many students at CSUSB Rodriguez was a transfer from SBVC.

“I landed in community college sort of by accident. I didn’t realize how unprepared I was for college until my senior year when I realized I didn’t take any of the college requirements, now that I think back, I’m glad I went. Community college paved the way for me to end up at Harvard,” said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez attended CSUSB after community college where he majored in psychology and became a McNair Scholar. The McNair scholars program aims at preparing first generation college students for doctoral degrees.

He then went on to attend Harvard earning two masters degrees and a doctorate in administration, planning and social policy from Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Rodriguez began his professorial career at Florida International University and is currently a full-time professor, teaching doctoral, masters and undergraduate classes in the College of Educational Leadership and Curriculum. He teaches courses in diversity and equity, research methods and school culture.

Rodriguez’s devoted research in local public schools has led him to be the principal investigator of the PRAXIS Project, Participatory Research Advocating for Excellence in Schools. This project is intended to focus on the dropout crisis among low income communities of color in the Inland Empire.

Among other achievements he has had his research published in various educational publications. According to his web site louierodriguez.com, he recently was the recipient of the 30 Under 35 Award of Latinos and Native Americans for his service in the community.

Let Rodriguez’s inspiring story and words of encouragement remind you that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

“I would say to students — you belong here.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  These institutions are often difficult to navigate but there is always someone who can be a mentor, an advocate and an ally,” said Rodriguez.

“Find them, knock on doors, ask questions. If you don’t get the answer you were looking for, keep asking, keep searching. These institutions are here to serve you. Be served and serve. Give back, and equally important, read.”