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John Rodriguez The Hornet Five

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The Hornet Five with John Rodriguez

The Hornet Five is a new series asking Hornet Family members five unique questions highlighting their role in Sacramento State’s impact as an anchor university.

Headshot: John Rodriguez Sac State alumni

It came as a bit of a surprise when John Rodriguez, '19 (Business Administration), found himself at Sacramento State in 2017.

He believed that college wasn’t in the cards for him after the 2008 financial crisis affected his family. Instead, John focused on earning money to contribute, and he put in more hours when his younger sister sought a secondary education focusing on augmented reality.

Giving back is at the heart of everything John does, and it’s what fueled his education when he eventually made his way to Sacramento State to study business. With the support he was given here, he was able to excel at his college career and find new ways to give back.

This is his Hornet Five highlight.

How has giving back impacted your life?  

It’s all about giving hope. I didn’t immediately go into college. I thought of myself as a blue-collar guy, a non-academic. But now I know anyone can do what I did with the support Sacramento State gave me.   

I’ve served as a role model for the past six years for at-risk youth, for those who don’t have a father figure or brother. I mentor the kids with three friends, and we use basketball to meet the kids where they’re at. You can learn so much through the game, and I enjoy helping them develop their mindset.

One kid that I’ve known since he was 15 years old now works for Deloitte in Idaho. I made a connection for him there. He took my guidance and followed it through, and now he has a career that will set him apart. I am very proud of him.   

I want to do the same for my son by being a great husband and loving father. We’re still expecting, so I’m cultivating positivity by reading to him in the womb.

Where does Sac State fit in that picture? 

I benefitted through mentorship and scholarship too.   

I worked in outreach and recruitment. Part of my role was to help deliver gift baskets in the community to expose younger kids to Sacramento State and higher education. Through that work, I was able to see the kids’ appreciation, and they were able to see someone from the university who looked like them. It wasn’t just a gift basket. It transformed a part of them.  

A staff mentor helped to get me plugged into the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. I was able to bring in business leaders for a panel Q&A on career development, networking, and how to communicate in the business world.  

Sacramento State also gave me scholarships, which gave me the chance to do well. Scholarships are gifts of opportunity. Knowing someone has your back and is giving you a leg up means a lot. It’s life-changing. If someone is receiving a scholarship, they’re deserving, and it gives them a chance to show what they can do.

John stands arms outstretched before the Sacramento mural on campus. A quote reads, "I want to put Sacramento on the map."

What surprised you about your Sac State degree?   

I chose Sacramento State because it was affordable, close by, and I had a lot of friends going there. It’s a reputable school that my parents went to as well. It’s not an easy school, but they understand where students are at.    

There is something about Sacramento State graduates that resonates with business leaders. We’re dynamic because the university accentuates learning soft skills to match the hard skills. Developing business communication skills prepared me to handle curveballs thrown my way and to work with different personalities. As Hornets, we’re adaptable, and that’s not something I see every day.  

When I left Sac State, I felt like the world was my oyster.

How did scholarships help you succeed?  

I was working three jobs just to be okay. I wasn’t making a lot. I wasn’t comfortable and was still coming up short when books were due. Then there is the stress of taking on debt when there is no promise you can pay for everything. But Sacramento State gave me the support I needed with scholarships.

Scholarships impact students where they have more freedom and less stress. Stress can impact how you take a test and retain information. The support I received from Sacramento State helped me to graduate in four years.

What's on the horizon for you?

I want to help put Sacramento on the map.

John and his wife hold up their shoes along with a pair for their baby.I'm a Financial Analyst for Siemens Mobility and proud to have automated and improved processes with my computer programming background and communication skills. Siemens continually pushes me to grow as an employee, husband, coworker, and friend by giving me a diverse perspective where I feel I can be myself—and wear my favorite sneakers on Fridays. Sneaker culture is something I hope to pass down to my son who is due in January 2022.

How you can help

You can make a gift to our On the Rise Campaign to help current Sacramento State students. Review the Guide to Giving to consider your options.

Sacramento State is more than an education. It's where the future begins.