2012-2013 Scholarship Recipients 

Rodolfo Rodriguez

Rodolfo Rodriguez
2012-13 recipient of The Serna Center Leadership Initiative Scholarship, $2000
Sponsored by Bustos-Lopez Family

I was born in Fresno, California in 1990, and raised in Coalinga, about an hour west of Fresno. My particular neighborhood, like many other communities around that area, has a large agricultural worker population. My parents and most of my friends and their families are farm workers. I transferred to CSU Sacramento in the spring of 2010, and I am now a senior majoring in sociology and finishing up my last year as an undergraduate.  As an undergraduate, I participate in several organizations both on and off campus (such as Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, Students for Quality Education and Labor Council for Latin American Advancement) and was accepted into the McNair Scholars program. I am currently working on research to contribute to the lack of important research on the Latino population, who are now the largest population in California. My goals for the future are to publish my research, obtain my undergraduate degree, and continue learning in a master’s program followed by a doctoral program, and eventually return to my hometown of Coalinga to help serve my community.

Vanessa Mendez

Vanessa Mendez 
2012-13 recipient of The Serna Center Leadership Initiative Scholarship, $2000
Sponsored by Bustos-Lopez Family 

Vanessa Mendez is a first generation college student majoring in Psychology with a minor in Communication Studies. She is currently a sophomore and the first in her family to move away to attend college. She comes from a farm worker background that has showed her the true value of education. Her parents are her role models and her motivation to pursue a higher education. Her ultimate goal is to pursue her Ph.D. in psychology to become a Forensic Psychologist.  She wants to be actively involved with the law and work in the court and prison by providing expert testimony, determining if a defendant is suitable to stand in trial, and assessing their actions. 

She is looking forward to volunteering at Folsom State Prison this month for the Prison Education Program (PEP) where she will participate in academic orientation and career development sessions to inmates. She is also involved in intramural soccer, College Assistant Migrant Program (CAMP), and Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). She is currently the Cultural Chair for Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlán (M.E.Ch.A) and one of the founders for the Honors Society, Delta Epsilon Iota.  

Marcos de Dios

Marcos de Dios
2012-13 recipient of the Joe Serna, Jr. Memorial Scholarship, amount $2500
National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and the UA Plumbers and Pipefitters

My name is Marcos De Dios, and I was born in a small city called Cotija in Michoacán, Mexico and was raised in Sacramento, California since the age of six. Currently, I am pursuing a Bachelors of Science as a Mechanical Engineer. More specifically, I want to specialize in automotive design. My family and I have lived in poverty all our lives. That is the reason why my parents migrated here. They hoped that my sister, brother, and I would not have to go through their struggles. My father has worked in construction and the fields for very low wages.  My mother worked as well, so she and my father can put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads. It is very moving to see what they go through just to try to give us a better life. One of the biggest motivations that keep me in school is the fact that I don’t want to see my parents struggle so much for the rest of their lives.   

Last summer I went to work in the fields at Davis, CA. I truly understood the meaning of working very hard for such small pay. This experience has taught me that I would rather be breaking my head over a problem at school, rather than breaking my back in the fields or construction. I want to make my parents proud in knowing that their son has gone through many obstacles as an immigrant and has triumphed.  Being from a farm labor background, I have had several disadvantages compared to other students, notably financial and other forms of institutional support.  I believe nothing is impossible when one is determined to succeed. In the near future, I will graduate and plan to open up a body shop with my younger brother whom I share the same goals with. I also hope to have the opportunity to work alongside with others to help working class students not drop out of high school.