CTU Student Miguel Rodriguez Named a 2015 Generation Google Scholar
CTU student Miguel Rodriguez was chosen over the summer as a Generation Google Scholar of 2015. One of fifteen students selected for the 2014-2015 academic year, Miguel was awarded a $10,000 grant as well as an all-expenses-paid trip to the Google Scholars' Retreat in Mountain View, CA in mid-June. At the retreat, Miguel joined students from Johns Hopkins University, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Florida, and 12 other colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada.
Miguel began attending CTU in February 2014, taking online courses toward his Bachelor of Science in Information Technology. At the urging of his academic advisor, he applied for the Generation Google Scholarship in March of 2015, a process which included supplying his current transcripts, resume, and reference letters as well as answering questions about his future career plans and the goals he hoped to accomplish with his degree. After waiting almost 2 months for the winners to be announced, Miguel learned he would be heading to Google's headquarters in June.
The Generation Google Scholarship is intended to "help aspiring computer scientists excel in technology and become leaders in the field" by providing the resources to support future success. While at the Google Scholars' Retreat, Miguel had the chance to meet with current Google employees, attend workshops focusing on coding and other relevant IT skills, and meet with other scholarship recipients. "It gave you an idea of what it's like to work at Google," he said of the week-long experience.
More than just networking and learning from some of the best in the industry, however, scholarship recipients were also put in contact with a Google mentor and encouraged to get involved with their local schools and communities. Miguel has been in contact with his mentor (a project manager at Google) multiple times since the scholarship retreat while trying to organize outreach programs with local middle schools. The extracurricular programs—the idea for which stems from his current coursework at CTU, and which he hopes to start this semester—would be geared toward increasing interest in computer science, with Google helping to arrange and possibly provide some of the necessary resources and tools.
Community engagement is something Miguel was already very passionate about. After having to overcome a number of hurdles before getting into CTU, Miguel is devoted to helping others realize their educational and professional goals even in the face of adversity. He is especially active lending support in both the local Hispanic community and the HIV-positive community. "As someone who is HIV-positive, I wanted to show them this is not a death sentence," he said. "To see that when you're willing to put in the work, great things can happen."
Since the Google Scholars' Retreat last summer, Miguel has gotten a position doing Level 3 technical services and support for a local tech company that provides an interactive online video-based training platform for 2,000 corporations in 150 countries based in eastern Pennsylvania. He continues to take courses online at CTU, and once he graduates he hopes to put his knowledge and experience to use creating applications to help keep people safer on the roads. "I have friends who have died in car accidents due to texting," said Miguel. "In the future, I want to be able to create an application where people won't be able to text and drive," noting that he hopes also to work with car companies to create similar in-car technology that could help parents disable texting options when their teens are behind the wheel.
Miguel may fly out to the Google Scholars' Retreat again in June to talk to the 2016 scholarship winners, but in the meantime he's on track to graduate with his Information Technology degree in March of 2017.
Having faced difficulties securing financial aid for college, Miguel turned to the financial aid advisors at CTU, who he credits with helping him find a way to fund his education. In addition to making students aware of possible outside grants and scholarship programs for which they may qualify—like the Generation Google program—the financial aid team also provides students with information on federal and state loans, private loans, work-study programs, tuition reimbursement options, and self-payment plans.
Pointing to the many challenges he has faced in pursuing his degree, Miguel noted how happy is to have wound up here at Colorado Technical University. "I really want to thank CTU for all the support," he said. "I'm proud to be a CTU student, [and] I would definitely recommend [CTU] to any of my family and friends looking to get into school."
Photos courtesy of Miguel Rodriguez. Photo 1: Miguel Rodriguez. Photo 2 (bottom left):Miguel with two Googlers (Sarah Safir who is the scholarships coordinator and Lauren Walton who assists with the scholarships). Photo 3 (bottom right): Miguel is on the right hand corner (kneeling down) with the green hoodie (in front of the Googler with the red t-shirt).