Jessica Rodriguez thought her dream of going to college would be impossible after starting a family at a young age. That changed when she landed a position at FedEx. After working her way up over 13 years, the door to higher education opened for the Texas native when she realized she could earn her degree online and have the company’s support.
Her dream was a reality, after seven years of hard work, when she walked across the stage at Spring Commencement 2018 with her family there to support her. Earning her Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a Specialization in Computer Information Systems, Rodriguez plans on using her degree to grow in her field.
“My Florida Tech degree will help me advance my career in technology through quality assurance, development and even management should I choose to go that route.“
Rodriguez is the first person in her family to graduate from college. We talked to her about her academic journey and this great accomplishment:
What were the most important factors in your decision to choose Florida Tech?
The most important factors in my decision to choose Florida Tech were that my kids were young, I had a full-time job and I am very active in my church. I needed the flexibility that online school offered. Another important factor in my decision was the fact that Florida Tech was already a pre-approved accredited school by my company for tuition reimbursement. Upon researching the school, I found that it was a real school with athletic and academic teams. It was important to me that I felt that I was part of a real college experience/school. It was a great fit for me.
Do you have any future plans now that you have your degree?
In the future, I would like to get my master’s degree. In the near future, I will be applying for positions that will allow me to use my newly obtained education/degree.
What surprised you most about taking an online program?
I was most surprised at how an online program functioned just like a regular classroom. I was also surprised at how responsive and involved the professors were. Despite attending online, I still felt like I was part of the Panther community.
What was your favorite class and why?
My favorite class was HUM1021 – Integrated Arts because it gave me a break from the structured material and lesson plan. This class allowed me to explore art in different forms and express my opinion. I really enjoyed creating a sculpture and learning about lines, colors and textures.
What was your most valuable takeaway from the program?
I would say my most valuable takeaway from the program is that there are no right or wrong answers. You just have to be able to support your opinions, reasoning, thoughts, actions or suggestions with solid, concrete reasons about why you think, feel or believe your way would work. In other words, don’t be afraid to think outside the box, but be prepared to defend your position.
What advice would you give other students who are considering enrolling in the program?
I would definitely encourage other students to enroll in the program if online school fits their lifestyle. The advice I would give them is: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Times will come when you don’t understand something, when situations in life occur or when you are simply struggling to stay afloat. The professors are there to help in any way that they can, but they need to know what is going on. Be honest with them and keep them in the loop if/when you need help. They are willing to work with you; they can explain the material in a different way, provide extensions and can even offer great advice themselves.
Who has been your support system?
I would have to say that my family collectively is my support system. My husband would make dinner, tend to the kids and do many other things when I was unavailable to do so. My kids would make themselves food, wash their own clothes, clean and give me time when I needed to get homework done. There were even times when my mom would bring me food, clean my house, wash my dishes and take my kids just so that I could concentrate on my work. I would not have been able to see this degree through if it wasn’t for them.
What was the most challenging part of your student journey?
The most challenging part of my student journey was definitely being sleep-deprived for the last seven years and the time you must sacrifice with your family as a parent and as a wife.
Who or what inspires you to succeed?
My family inspires me to succeed. I will be the first person in my entire family to actually earn a college degree. I don’t want to be another statistic and I wanted to show my kids they can create change if they work hard. I wanted to set a good example for my kids and I also wanted to be able to understand them once they got to college. Now I can proudly say, “I will, I can and I do understand.”
What is one fun fact about you?
One fun fact about me is that when I was a little, I would always look up to the sky and say, “When I get married, I am going to keep my same last name.” My innocent wish came true. It just so happened that my husband had the same last name as mine, Rodriguez. And NO, we are NOT related. So, I never had to change my last name!
Are you a graduate of Florida Tech’s 100% online degree programs? We would love to share your success story in our Student Spotlight series. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional details.