Richard Rodriguez: Building a better future for my family

  • Tags: Achievements | Commencement | Student Profile
Published 12/19/2019
December 2019 graduate Richard Rodriguez

December 2019 graduate Richard Rodriguez

My story at Elgin Community College began when I decided to go back to what I love the most—learning. You see, I dropped out of high school when I was in tenth grade. Ten years later, in the spring of 2016, I enrolled at ECC to get my High School Equivalency. I was such a different person when I went back to school. I was hungry to succeed, humble, open-minded, and full of positivity. In fact, just a couple of months later, I was ready to take on the exams. I passed all of my tests and got my HSE in only one semester. As I attended the ceremony and walked the stage in my blue cap and gown, I promised myself that I would keep going.

With that motivation, I enrolled in ECC again and took the next step to achieving my dreams. In the fall of 2016, I started as a first-time college student at age 26. It took me three years to complete my degree. To some, that might seem like a long time, but to me, it was perfect timing. I’m proud to be graduating at age 29. It’s about getting to the next step in life, not about how fast you can get there. I’ll take that lesson with me as I move on to complete my bachelor’s degree at Aurora University.

Throughout my journey at ECC, I met many kind and helpful friends, professors, staff members, and workers. The most impactful people during my time here at ECC were my current academic advisor Tanya Kozak, professors Eric Long, Mae Jones, John Mravik, Ginger Alms, and Clark Hallpike. These individuals have always been there for me and given me so much advice that helped me succeed at ECC.

The greatest impact was from my academic advisor Tanya Kozak. She became my advisor during the most difficult part of my journey. Tanya gave me so much clarity and listened to me many times. She was there for me, and because of her, I found the path to finish my degree.

My advice for future students is for them to step out of their comfort zones and be active. Never be afraid to ask for help, because there are many resources and people at ECC who care. I will always have a special place in my heart for ECC and all the professors, resources, and advisors. ECC has given me another chance in life to do what I want and build a better future for my loved ones and my little family.


Richard Rodriguez '19

Associate in Arts

Pingree Grove