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Rodriguez becomes first in family to graduate college

Julian Rodriguez returns to Wesleyan to finish his bachelors degree. Photo courtesy of Julian Rodriguez
Julian Rodriguez returns to Wesleyan to finish his bachelors degree. Photo courtesy of Julian Rodriguez

After taking a break from Texas Wesleyan, Julian Rodriguez returned this fall to complete his degree. He is the first of his family to graduate high school and is about to be the first to graduate college.

Currently, Rodriguez works as a paraprofessional for Functional Academics and Community Integration (FACI) at Hardwood Junior High School in Bedford, TX.

“We teach our students basic reading/writing, science, social studies, and math as well as social skills and social etiquette,” said Rodriguez. “Sometimes it can be very difficult, but honestly, I absolutely love my job. My passion my entire life has been very music driven, but ever since I started working with these kids, I have fallen in love with helping them. They have given me a passion for education that I did not know could exist.”

Rodriguez, a music major, is originally from San Antonio, but he was raised in Fort Worth. He is a graduate of Western Hills High School in 2013 and began taking classes at Wesleyan in 2014.

“It [Texas Wesleyan] was one of the few schools that offered me scholarships. The atmosphere of the Music Department was incredibly welcoming, and I actually really enjoyed the fact that it was a small school,” said Rodriguez.

Julian was very involved with campus life while attending Wesleyan. He was an RA, and he was the Ram Camp Director for two years. “Without Ram Camp, I would not have met some of the most incredible people ever to walk on this campus. When given an opportunity to go behind the scenes, I could not say no,” said Rodriguez. “… I even was honored to pass the torch on to two of my closest friends after I left.”

Rodriguez was friends with a few RAs his freshman year, and he said they helped him step out of his comfort zone. He got to become an RA because he performed for one of his friends [who was an RA at the time] at her SGA campaign for president as part of a flash mob.

Unfortunately, he was one of the student casualties of the block 16 rate change during his final year at Wesleyan in 2018. His university-based scholarships were about to run out, and he made a conscious decision to end his time at Wesleyan.

Two people influenced him to pursue music. Those two people were Eric Mullins, his high school band director, and Debra Rue, his choir director.

“Eric Mullins was my band director in high school, and though he never flat out told me to pursue music, he made me feel like music was my gift to give back to the world,” said Rodriguez. “Debra Rue, who was not only my choir director, gave me my first paid choir job.”

He loved his experience at Wesleyan.

“My overall experience at Wesleyan can only be described by the great Andy Bernard, ‘I wish there were a way to know you’re in ‘the good old days’ before you’ve actually left them,’” said Rodriguez. “All the late nights, all the tests, all the performances, all the tears (both good and bad), all of that shaped me to be who I am. I would not trade my experience at Wesleyan for anything in the world.”

Story by Dylan Pettway

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Rodriguez becomes first in family to graduate college