AUSTIN, Texas—Adrian Joseph Rodriguez, a government and economics major at The University of Texas at Austin, has been awarded a prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship.
Rodriguez is one of only 70 college and university students nationwide this year to receive the award from the Harry Truman Scholarship Foundation, which provides winners $30,000 each to further their education.
UT Austin President Larry R. Faulkner said, “Adrian Rodriguez has, in his three years here at UT Austin, compiled a superb record of achievement both inside and outside the classroom. This award is very fine and fitting recognition of those achievements, and it brings high honor not only to Mr. Rodriguez but also to our students and the University.”
Larry Carver, associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts, said Truman scholarships, awarded annually to select juniors going into their senior year, are given to young people who plan to use their education to enter public service. The $30,000 includes $3,000 for the senior year and $27,000 toward graduate school.
“More important than the money is the people these students get to meet and the opportunities that become available to them,” said Carver. “Truman scholars get to go to Liberty, Mo., in May for a week-long conference where they meet other Truman scholars and national leaders. They also have opportunities for internships in Washington, D.C. It’s really wonderful. Adrian has worked extremely hard to earn this prestigious award and the University is very proud of him.”
Rodriguez, a 1996 graduate of Eastwood High School in El Paso, began his studies at UT Austin as a freshman in 1996 and has maintained high grades while gaining valuable governmental experience working at the state capitol. Presently he is a legislative aide with the office of state Rep. Norma Chavez of El Paso.
He has received numerous awards and honors, including a University of Texas Presidential Scholarship, a Texas Achievement Award Scholarship and a College of Liberal Arts Ralph Nelson Scholarship. He has been recognized as a Distinguished Scholar during University Honors Day ceremonies and has been on the dean’s list with Ampla Cum Laude and Cum Laude Ampla et Magna distinctions.
Rodriguez said he plans to attend law school and the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at UT Austin after he receives his bachelor’s degree in the spring of 2000. Later, he would like to work on helping to develop the economy along the U.S.- Mexico border region.
In his nomination form for the scholarship, Rodriguez provided the Truman Scholarship Foundation with personal background information that helped explain his interest in improving the border economy.
“My parents grew up in poverty in El Paso, Texas, their home a few streets from the Rio Grande. Their parents –sons and daughters of immigrants –worked tirelessly as painters and factory workers so their children could attain an education. My parents were first in my family to graduate from high school. After graduation, my father worked 10 years as a draftsman to become a licensed architect. When I was 8 years old, my mother went back to college while holding a full-time job and raising two children. She will receive a degree in business at the age of 47.
“My parents made their lives better with hard work and dedication: they also made me better. They taught me to focus on my education and to strive for higher goals. When those goals were reached, I was told to set higher ones and to face life’s challenges. Nothing demonstrated a harder challenge than the death of my father on July 13, 1997.
“Days after my father passed away, I drove to the part of town where he spent his boyhood. Some homes were fire hazards threatening rather than sheltering a family. It was impossible to find a home or wall without rival gang markings. Down one street, a group of teenagers surrounded by police was lined up against a rock wall. To those teenagers, high school was a chore and college nothing more than a dream. The lack of economic opportunity and frustration condemned them to the poverty their parents faced. They had not learned, and now they never would, that hard work and dedication would enable them to leave this neighborhood and reap the benefits of a steady job and security. That August I left for college — the example of my parents squarely set before me.
“I am sometimes asked why I want to help the people of the border area, why I would forego a lucrative career in corporate law or banking. My response is: ‘I know their faces.'”
Visit the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation Web Cite at http://www.truman.gov/