Eduardo Rodriguez ’11
Youth development manager, Justice for All, Rock Valley, Iowa
Eduardo Rodriguez

Mentor and role model

Eduardo is on staff with Justice for All, a Christian ministry that partners with local churches to serve under-resourced communities and neighborhoods. As such, he develops and facilitates two weekly programs for high school students in northwest Iowa. The first, Impact Clubs, provides underserved students with fun, friendship and support as they learn how to be leaders and to serve their community. The second is a mentoring program for Latino youth that focuses on college preparation, team-building, community outreach and Latin American studies.

Why did you decide to attend Northwestern?

Growing up in Orange City, I’d always heard a lot of great things about Northwestern, which was what attracted me to it. I’m also really close to my family, so attending school near them was important to me. But it wasn’t until I visited that I really felt like Northwestern was the best choice for me. I liked the smaller college feel where I would be able to invest in co-curricular activities, be involved in dorm life, and develop incredible friendships. I really appreciated the small class sizes and being able to talk with and know my professors.

What were highlights during your years at NWC?

I did a little bit of improv in high school, so my sophomore year I mustered up the courage to try out for Northwestern’s improv company, Black V, and was chosen to join the team. Once you’re in Black V, you’re a member forever. It was probably one of my favorite co-curricular activities. The group definitely felt more like a family than a team. I was also the vice president of the International Club, and that was awesome being able to have such a diverse group of friends and perspectives in one room and learning from one another.

Why did you choose sociology for your major?

I’ve always been a people person. I really care about people, so my sociology major helped me understand them more—how to work with them and how to be part of my community in a way that I can positively impact it. My favorite class was Social Problems, which focused on the root of the major challenges and problems our country has, whether it’s racism, poverty, or any of those big issues. That class really challenged and spurred me on to where I am today, which is working with youth and helping them realize it’s important to be involved in their community and be good neighbors and love people. It really gave me a passion to be part of change.

In what other ways did Northwestern make a difference in your life?

Before college I didn’t have much of a faith. I didn’t grow up in a church or grow up going to youth group. That’s another reason I wanted to go to Northwestern: to develop and grow in my faith, and I was able to do that through relationships. People cared enough about me to invest in me, challenge and guide me, and show me what it means to follow Jesus.

How did you get into your line of work?

One of my professors told me about an internship opportunity with the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA). I contacted them, applied and worked as an intern at their Chicago headquarters for a year and a half after graduation, helping to organize their annual national conference. CCDA is a pretty big organization and well recognized. It was definitely a great part of my experience and my résumé. It really helped demonstrate that I was serious about development work and that I had some knowledge about the field. It was during my time at CCDA that I discovered I was interested in working with high school students. I could have used a mentor to invest in me when I was growing up, so I think that fueled my desire to work with youth. I like being a positive influence. Whether it’s helping them with academics or seeing them get excited about a service-learning project, the moments when I see youth grow into loving and caring people are the best part of my job.