WSU Tri-Cities business student Mario Rodriguez (right) and mother WSU Tri-Cities alumna and staff member Maria Luisa Rodriguez

Mom’s education success inspires son in quest to earn bachelor’s degree in business

RICHLAND, Wash. – For as long as Mario Rodriguez could remember, his mother, Maria Luisa Rodriguez, had taken one or two classes at a time, determined to earn her bachelor’s degree in business.

WSU Tri-Cities business student Mario Rodriguez

WSU Tri-Cities business student Mario Rodriguez

After working in an assortment of jobs, ranging from harvesting crops, to warehouses, to restaurants, to childcare, she and her husband wanted to provide a better life for their family. While Mario Rodriguez and his siblings were out on the playground, his mother would study for a class or complete an assignment – first for her courses at Columbia Basin College and then for her courses at Washington State University Tri-Cities.

“At an early age, I knew that if I wanted something I had to work hard in order to achieve it,” Maria Luisa Rodriguez said. “Earning my degrees would be no different. As life created its path for me, I had the realization that not having a degree would limit me in the dreams and goals I had. I mentally made myself a life goals checklist: Earn a college degree, get a job with purpose and fulfillment, and simply live a good life.”

So when Mario Rodriguez decided to pursue his own path toward earning at college degree at WSU Tri-Cities a couple of years ago, he wanted to make his mom proud.

“She wanted to make sure that she earned that degree,” he said. “Her being in school always motivated me. She took a class or two while raising us. She is really inspiring, and I want make her proud.”

Saving money and getting an excellent education

Jesus Bravo (center), clinical assistant professor of business, works with business student Mario Rodriguez (center left), and other students in a classroom at WSU Tri-Cities.

Rodriguez chose WSU Tri-Cities as his own college option after studying at another college campus for a year because he could live at home, save money, remain close to his family, and get an excellent, well-rounded education.

In his classes, Rodriguez said he enjoyed learning from professors who are “passionate, in-tune with business needs of today and really engaging with their teaching.”

He chose to pursue a double degree option—studying digital technology and culture, where he specializes in graphic design and video production, and business administration, where he is working to grow his foundational knowledge in business, which can be applied to an assortment of areas in marketing and running a multimedia marketing firm.

“I have had classes with business professor Jesus Bravo, who was super into the subjects he was speaking about,” he says. “He would talk to you about the products you have in a business, how to keep your business relevant, and why many businesses fail or succeed.”

“Our professors teach us material that is applicable today and they constantly engage us and ask us questions to make us feel important and that our feedback matters,” he says.

 On-campus opportunities to spur potential career in marketing

WSU Tri-Cities business student Mario Rodriguez (left) chats with fellow students on the WSU Tri-Cities campus

WSU Tri-Cities business student Mario Rodriguez (left) chats with fellow students on the WSU Tri-Cities campus.

Rodriguez has had the opportunity to work in several capacities on campus that support his goal of pursuing a career in marketing.

He worked in the Office of Professional Development and Community Education where he designed flyers, created materials, and helped manage office duties. This provided him with a good foundation for how an office worked.

Because his mother worked for the running start program at WSU Tri-Cities, he had the opportunity to use what he learned through his digital technology and culture classes to take photos and video to be used by the program. These opportunities helped showcase his talents to the university marketing and communications office, where he was recruited to work as an intern.

In the marketing and communications office at WSU Tri-Cities, Rodriguez blends his passion for design with his skills in business to produce materials ranging from video features, to crafting plans for social media marketing, to creating designs that are used for flyers, and other marketing materials.

“It’s cool to be able to work on projects that will highlight our campus and be used for real marketing purposes,” he says. “I am applying what I’m learning while still going to school.”

From mom to son

WSU Tri-Cities business student Mario Rodriguez (right) poses for a photo with his mother Maria Luisa Rodriguez who graduated from WSU Tri-Cities last spring with a degree in business.

WSU Tri-Cities business student Mario Rodriguez (right) poses for a photo with his mother Maria Luisa Rodriguez who graduated from WSU Tri-Cities last spring with a degree in business.

Last spring, Rodriguez witnessed his mother receive her diploma for a bachelor’s in business from WSU Tri-Cities. She is now using her degree as a program coordinator for the Carson College of Business at WSU Tri-Cities.

“Seeing her walk across that stage made me really proud, and even more so, made me want to live up to what she had set for me,” Mario Rodriguez said.

Now, he looks forward to making his mom proud by following in her footsteps while setting forth in his own path in marketing.

Mario Rodriguez completed his digital technology and culture degree last spring and now is finishing his bachelor’s in business administration with the goal of one-day working for a multimedia or advertising firm.

Maria Luisa Rodriguez said she couldn’t be more proud of her son.

“I constantly remind Mario that there are no limits to your dreams and to never let anything stop you from achieving them,” she said. “There will be times where you will want to give up and wonder ‘Why am I doing this?’ But after all those heartaches and late nights, nothing beats the feeling of when you walk across that stage, receive your degree and shake the hands of the very same people who supported, guided and motivated you along the way.”

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