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Get to Know CAB: Yessica Rodriguez

By Sarah Grace Smith

Meet Yessica Rodriguez, the promotion and social media lead of our Conference Advisory Board! She attends the University of Northern Colorado and plans on going to medical school to become a pediatric pulmonologist. Yessica aspires to eventually open her own health clinic to serve low-income people of color. In our interview, I met a woman with huge dreams and a sympathetic heart who hopes to help others. Get to know Yessica with this blog post.

Why is Mortar Board important to you?

Yessica: Mortar Board has taught me how to be the true definition of a leader and how to work collaboratively with other students. With Mortar Board, it feels like I am a part of something even bigger.

What is your favorite Mortar Board memory?

Yessica: Going to conference this last summer. I wasn’t really sure what to expect out of it, so I went in with a blind eye. I got along really well with Section 19. We all hung out and toured the city. We still keep in touch. It’s really great. Compared to other conferences I’ve been to for other things, this one I didn’t leave feeling discouraged. I think it helped me return to my chapter and have all those positive associations with Mortar Board.

Who or what inspires and motivates you?

Yessica: The first person that comes to my mind immediately is my grandmother on my mom’s side. Before she passed away, she wanted me to give her a promise that even though she probably wouldn’t see it in person, that I would become a doctor for her and for my grandfather, who died of lung cancer. That inspires me every day. Anytime I feel overwhelmed, I go back to that moment and realize that I’m doing this for a greater purpose, and I’m not just doing it for the now.

If you won $100 million in the lottery today, what would you do with it?

Yessica:  I think the smart thing to do, initially, would be to get a financial advisor so I don’t blow it all. That and pay off any student debt that I still have, and then set aside some for medical school. In terms of purchases, the first thing I would like to do would be to buy my parents a new house. It’s the least I could do for them.  And then maybe buy myself something that’s ridiculously nice, and then call it and save the rest.

If you were shipwrecked on a deserted island with all your basic needs taken care of, what two items would you want with you?

Yessica: I don’t have one, but I feel like it would be fun to bring a Nintendo Switch and play Animal Crossing, because it’s like the hype. I would also like a stress ball so if I’m bored, I can throw it in the air. What else am I going to do?

What song do you always have to sing along to, no matter where you are?

Yessica: I think anything from Adele, just because, you know, it’s Adele. Probably that “Hello” song. I love to yell it in the car by myself. It’s a great song.

What’s the last gift you gave someone?

Yessica: For Christmas, two of my friends and I did a gift exchange. One of them wanted a mini travel size watercolor set. I was able to find a really cute one online. For my other friend, she really wanted headphones and she was always talking about how cool airpods were. A few months before the gift exchange, I asked, “So you haven’t bought airpods yet, right?” And she said, “No, I’ll probably just wait until Christmas if they go on sale.” The week of the exchange, I asked again and she said no. When I gave her the present, she was surprised and I told her that’s why I kept asking.

What is your favorite thing about yourself?

Yessica: Back when I was in middle school, I considered myself a very intense introvert. It wasn’t until the end of middle school that I started to open up more. Something that I really like about myself is how I was able to open up, and how I consider myself an extraverted introvert now. To sum it up, what I like about myself is growth, and how I was able to grow into something that I used to be afraid of.

What would you say to members thinking about going to our virtual conference?

Yessica:This will be a great way to learn how to adapt. As members of Mortar Board, we are the leaders of our universities and community, adapting to our environment and situation constantly. We have risen as scholars and leaders in Mortar Board by knowing how to adjust, and what better way to continue that than with virtual conference! Although it won't be the same as an in-person one, we can still virtually come together and learn what members across the nation are doing to make our chapters be as successful online as we have been in person. It also can be a great place to laugh and smile at everyone's zoom backgrounds.