Extra Mile Award Employee of the Month: Danny Rodriguez

April 08, 2019

Danny was born and raised in the Koreatown District of Los Angeles, CA. He is son to Rosa Rodriguez, a single mother, Salvadoran refugee, and resilient human being. Growing up, his mother always encouraged him to stay in school and try his hardest. She wanted him to be able to attend college one day, even though she had no idea what it would take to get there. Danny is the oldest of three brothers and his circumstances have forced him to always lead by example and be a mentor for others. Through his mother’s struggles and sacrifice, and his own triumphs, Danny was admitted to UC Santa Cruz in 2007 as part of the EOP Summer Bridge program.

When Danny was admitted to UCSC, he had a 2.89 GPA from high school and showed a lot of promise. He took it upon himself to consider the ways in which education had disenfranchised people like himself — low-income, first-generation college students, Latinx — and became driven to do something about it. In 2011, he graduated from UCSC with a GPA of 3.77 and a degree in Sociology and Latin American and Latino Studies; his hope has always been to construct a counter-narrative around what success looks like. It was at UC Santa Cruz that Danny would come to learn more about the struggles of Central Americans and the reasons for his mother’s forced migration to the United States. The U.S.-backed, Salvadoran Civil War (1980-1992), which resulted in a mass loss of life and disappearances, helped contextualize for him the importance of his successes in higher education and his urgency for interrupting institutional barriers for students from historically minoritized backgrounds.

In 2012, he was admitted to a graduate program in Higher Education and Student Affairs at the University of San Francisco and worked tirelessly to be the first one in his family to receive a master's degree, which he completed before returning to work as an Academic Adviser at Oakes College. Danny is now the Lead Academic Preceptor of Oakes College and is an integral part of the college’s leadership team and the UCSC advising community. A lot of his drive in life has been to give back to his community and he continues to do so through advising, mentoring, and advocacy. Danny is featured in the Institute of the Arts and Sciences’ Collective Museum exhibition, an innovative exhibition spread across the UC Santa Cruz campus.

Given the current political climate, Danny believes it is important for him to share more about his experiences as a Central American leader in higher education, in the hopes of humanizing the complex lives of Central Americans locally, at the border, and globally. He has found that higher education is the place where he can most impact the lives of students. Moreover, Danny intentionally focuses on how historically minoritized communities possess ‘cultural wealth,’ which contributes to their success and resiliency in college and is an invaluable part of their contributions to the institution. He looks forward to seeing many more students like himself walk across the stage and graduate from UC Santa Cruz.

Danny was recognized twice this month by his co-workers for his inspiring “willingness to speak up and advocate for others and equity to the college advising community”. He was also described as caring, consistent, professional, warm, engaging and responsive. “Danny contributes his skills campus-wide, he works collaboratively with others and is always willing to go the extra mile needed to make a program successful!”

Thank you, Danny, for going the extra mile!