Michael Rodriguez

Associate in Arts

Michael Rodriguez grew up in Sunnyside, Wash. Raised by a single-mother, Rodriguez struggled during his teenage years and often found himself getting in trouble. He also lacked focus on his education.

“I made bad decision after bad decision until I finally got expelled from school my 9th grade year. This led me down a road of depression and led me to just give up on most things in my life,” said Rodriguez.

After earning his GED, he began working at Smuckers Fruit Processing Plant. Wanting more for his future, Rodriguez enrolled at Yakima Valley College in 2019 with the goal of becoming a teacher.

“My last full year of school was 9th grade and the years prior to my 9th grade year I was not concerned about paying attention in school. [A] barrier [I experienced] was learning how to become an effective student,” he continued.

This June Rodriguez completes his associate in arts degree and becomes one of the first members of his family to earn a college degree. He plans to transfer to a four-year university and work toward his goal of being an English Language Acquisition (ELA) instructor.

Through his story, he hopes to help inspire future generations to take a different path than he chose.

“I know how critical middle school and high school is for one’s development. So I thought I could use my story of failure in my adolescent days to drive a message to current students on the importance of an education. I want to be an influence on the younger generation to take full advantage of their youth and become the best person they can become,” continued Rodriguez.