An administrative coordinator for the Office of the Vice President for Health Affairs and Dean, Rodriguez was one of 16 community leaders recognized by Congressman Darren Soto (FL-09) during Hispanic Heritage Month. Awardees included business leaders, veterans, journalists and healthcare providers caring for Central Floridians during COVID-19. As part of their recognition, the honorees’ names and accomplishments will be read into the Congressional Record, Rep. Soto said during a Zoom celebration on Oct. 6.
“Your life stories are part of our shared American history,” he said during the celebration.
A native New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent, Rodriguez moved to Orlando in 2012, joined UCF in 2014 and the College of Medicine in 2019. She has worked in the UCF President’s Office and the university’s Puerto Rico Research Hub. She has been passionate about helping new Hispanic immigrants to Central Florida learn English, get jobs, career licensing and higher education, and recover from natural disasters such as hurricanes in their native countries. She coordinated free English classes through a collaboration with the City of Orlando’s Hispanic Office for Local Assistance (HOLA) and was the point of contact at the university for multiple programs, including the Latin American-Caribbean Scholarship, the Hurricane Maria Disaster Recovery Program and the English Language Institute. The Puerto Rico Research Hub and the English Language Institute are a part of UCF Global.
“Thank you for being a welcoming face to new Hispanic residents to our region,” the congressman said while presenting her the award.
Rodriguez received her B.A. in Spanish from Brooklyn College at the City University of New York and says she has always tried to put her bilingual skills to use to help others. She still remembers her favorite teacher — a nun who started a buddy system in her class that had bilingual students assist with translating for new Spanish-speaking immigrant children so they could keep up their lessons.
“I come from a family where doing the right thing is second nature,” she says. “We need to be available to help each other. It doesn’t have to be something big. Taking one small action can make all the difference in the world to that person you helped.”
Here are the other honorees:
Anthony Carillo – Florida regional director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration
Angelita Seda – Florida Department of Health in Osceola County – Senior Nurse
Arnaldo Amoros – Fraternal Order of Police of Central Florida – President
Command Sergeant Major Aníbal Albertorio – Retired Borinqueneer
Cramer Verde – Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida, President.
Diana Mejia – President, Chief Executive Officer of Nuevo Sendero
Jesus “JV” Roa – Emergency Medicine Physician – Orlando Regional Medical Center Emergency Department
Luis Herrera – Medical Director – Orlando Health Cancer Institute Thoracic Oncology Program
Jackie D. Méndez – Editor-in-Chief of Tu Revista Mujer
Juana Diaz – Registered Nurse
Olga Aymat – Anchor on Telemundo Orlando/NBC Universal
Pedro Brull – Central Florida Artist
Ricky Rodriguez – Nursing Director
Sol Hincapie – Registered Nurse
Stephanie Carrizales – Patient Care Tech – Winter Haven Women’s Hospital