Accessibility the Jessup Way
As a junior in high school, first generation college student Elvis Rodriguez didn’t see himself taking the collegiate route for his future. “I didn’t think attending college was a realistic option for me,” the sophomore said. “College wasn’t on my radar because of finances.” But with perseverance and the Lord’s leading, Rodriguez is starting his second year in Jessup’s nursing program.
Rodriguez is attending Jessup on behalf of a scholarship/partnership the University developed with Cristo Rey High School of Sacramento. The agreement creates a pathway to make Christian higher education more accessible for Cristo Rey students.
It was his high school counselors who encouraged him to pursue his college education. “When I met with my counselors, they told me all of my hard work in high school shouldn’t be for nothing and that really stuck with me.” At Cristo Rey, he decided to enroll in anatomy and physiology courses and found himself gravitating toward a career path that motivated him to study and gave him purpose to attend college.
As a first generation college student, Rodriguez found himself navigating the college process somewhat alone. “Many people have a parent or sibling to guide them, give advice or share strategies but my parents didn’t attend college,” he said. “I had these preconceived notions of how college might be, but coming in not knowing anyone was overwhelming.”
What he has found reassuring and supportive was the welcoming atmosphere of the Jessup community. “I was introduced to a lot of kind people who checked in to make sure things were going well, that I was getting my homework done or to see how I was adjusting. It was clear that people at Jessup genuinely care about how things were going for me.”
Jessup faculty also helped Rodriguez connect. “One day, I was eating lunch in the cafe alone. I didn’t think much of it, but I saw one of my professors who noticed I was eating by myself so he asked if he could join me for lunch. We had a great conversation and it helped us to bond in a way that I’ve really appreciated.”
Rodriguez’s college experience gives him many things to be proud of, but nothing can replace the hard work he’s done to get where he is today. “I think that figuring things out on my own is something I’m most proud of because I’m paving a way for my family to do the same thing. Rodriguez’s sister is currently a high school student who can now turn to her brother for college advice. “ I know I can help her in ways I wasn’t able to get help. I can give her tips as she follows in my footsteps and we are all very excited about that,” he said.
Coming from a close-knit family, Rodriguez recognizes them as his “center of peace” but gives all glory to God. “I believe God led my family to this. Things could have been so much different, but the Lord led me here,” he said.
There’s no doubt his parents are tremendously proud of their son’s accomplishments. “My mom and dad are so excited I’m at Jessup. They immigrated to the United States to build a better life for my sister and me and that is what we are all doing together. I am so incredibly grateful,” he said. “It’s so exciting that sometimes I just don’t believe it myself!”