Alicia  Rodriguez

Alicia  Rodriguez 2016

Food and nutrition, Public health
Phoenix, Ariz.

Alicia Rodriguez graduated from Boulder Creek High School, not far from where she grew up in the desert just north of Phoenix, Ariz.

So where else would she go to college but Bluffton?

“I knew I wanted to go here,” says the sophomore, whose mother, Jane (Yoder), moved to Arizona after earning a Bluffton degree in education in 1981. Rodriguez visited Bluffton every summer with her family, pointing out, too, that her aunt, Marie Yoder Dyck, works in the university’s financial aid office.

She didn’t apply anywhere else, and it helped that her mother, Rodriguez says, thought she would have a better experience at a Mennonite institution, where she would not be “a number” and could make connections more readily.

And that’s just what has happened at Bluffton, where she is majoring in food and nutrition and public health. “In my large high school, I felt really lost” and wasn’t involved in any extracurricular activities. The opposite has been true, however, since Rodriguez arrived on campus last year.

Her Bluffton activities include membership on the Marbeck Center Board and the Spiritual Life Week planning committee. Last summer, she was an assistant in Musselman Library and, in July, was part of a student group that accompanied admissions staff to the Mennonite Church USA convention in Phoenix. An ambassador for the admissions office, and a Homecoming attendant this fall, she is also treasurer of the Bluffton University Nutrition Association.

Her choice of a food and nutrition major resulted from an interest in being healthy that she developed in high school, Rodriguez says. But “I wouldn’t be doing dietetics, and I wouldn’t have made it this far, if not for Dr. Daws,” her professor for an inorganic chemistry class last year.

“I’m not a science person,” she admits, crediting Daws for helping her acquire the chemistry needed for her science-based majors. And “he still helps me out,” she says, noting that she has found other helpful professors, and fellow students, as well.

Her long-term plans include exploring careers in public advocacy about nutrition or writing meal plans for a hospital or an elder-care facility. “I want to impact people with what I’m learning.”