Assistant Director for Student Access and Support, Marjorie Rodriguez, This Year’s Recipient of Carlos Vega Community Champion Award

May 29, 2024
Assistant Director for Student Access and Support, Marjorie Rodriguez. She wears a black shirt and glasses and stands in front of blurred foliage.

Marjorie Rodriguez.

Marjorie Rodriguez, Assistant Director for Student Access and Support for the University's Course Achievement, Retention, and Engagement Center (CARE), has been recognized with this year's Carlos Vega Community Champion Award. Presented by the Latino Scholarship Fund in Western Massachusetts, this prestigious award acknowledges individuals who exhibit exceptional dedication to social justice and community empowerment.

Named after the late Carlos Vega, a revered Ecuadorian immigrant and activist in Holyoke, the award is a mini-grant that celebrates individuals like Rodriguez who strive to create positive change in marginalized communities. Nicole West, Director of CARE, praised Rodriguez's unwavering commitment to supporting Latinx students and fostering equity on campus. West also highlighted Rodriguez's unique perspective as a native Puerto Rican, enriching the university's efforts to amplify diverse voices and ensure all students' needs are met.

“Marjorie’s position in the CARE Center has allowed her to show her passion for the Latino community and help Latinx students at Westfield reach their full academic, economic, and social potential,” West said. “Using her experiences and knowledge as a native Puerto Rican from Cidra, PR, to help voices be heard from the community, Marjorie’s capacity to help Westfield students goes far beyond our Latinx population, making sure that the voices of all students are heard.”

 In email responses to the announcement, Rodriguez's colleagues at Westfield State also lauded her contributions. Dr. Jennifer Propp, Associate Professor of Social Work, commended Rodriguez's tireless advocacy and support for students.  “Marjorie does so much for our students and never tire in your advocacy and support,” Dr. Jennifer Propp, Associate Professor of Social Work said. “[She] is an inspiration!” 

“A huge congratulations! This is so well deserved, dear Marjorie! We are so fortunate to have you as a member of our campus community,” said Charlotte Capogna-Amias, Assistant Director of TRIO Student Support Services.

Dr. Wyatt Hermansen, Associate Professor of English, expressed gratitude for Rodriguez's transformative impact on students' lives and the campus community. “We are so fortunate to have you on our campus,” Hermansen,  said. “You change students’ lives with your work and help them see what’s possible. Your kindness has changed my life, too.”

In response, Rodriguez expressed humility and gratitude, emphasizing that the award reflects the collaborative efforts of her colleagues and the university's commitment to student success and inclusivity. “[Their] messages validate the hard work and dedication I have put into my role as the Assistant Director for Student Access and Support in the CARE Center, and the countless hours of collaboration with many colleagues and the Fostering Student Success Network team,” she said. “Receiving the Carlos Vega award is just an example of what we have achieved. The success is not only mine, but also that of all of you. Whether through donations, carrying a laundry basket, or simply with your words of encouragement, we are transforming lives.”

She encouraged unwavering support for students from diverse backgrounds, including those from foster care or facing housing insecurity, highlighting the importance of empowering all students to thrive academically and beyond. “Let us continue to foster a culture of empowerment and success for our entire student body, but especially for those who are coming to our Nest straight from the foster care system, those experiencing housing insecurity, or students from underrepresented populations, including but not limited to Latinx students. Together, we can welcome them and provide them with the unique tools and resources to develop the skills needed to retain them, and to guide them towards a successful degree completion and beyond.”