May 16, 2024
Miguel Rodriguez

Despite facing numerous challenges, Miguel Rodriguez remained resilient throughout his college experience. As a first-generation college student, Rodriguez initially found he had few resources to help him navigate the educational system. Through sheer determination, Rodriguez persevered thanks to help from his peers, from mentors and from the overwhelming support from his family. 

While studying mathematics, Rodriguez said he was determined to defy stereotypes while embracing his passion for knowledge. 

“Despite the doubts and expectations associated with my Mexican American background, I persisted, fueled by a burning desire to pursue knowledge and excel in my studies,” he said. 

Stan State’s support services were central to building community and thriving college.  

“My academic advisor, Jesus ‘Chuy’ Verdugo, provided me with invaluable guidance, helping me stay focused and on track toward my goals. Juanita Cruthird, the director of TRIO Student Support Services, offered a nurturing environment in the form of study lounges and labs where I could thrive academically,” he said. 

“Miguel is a humble student and seeks help when he needs it,” Verdugo said. “As a male student of first-generation and low-income status, it will be a true accomplishment not just for him but for our campus knowing we provided the tools for him to succeed and impact others.” 

Navigating the daily commute from his hometown of Winton to Turlock via public transportation, he proved his determination, getting up early to make it to class. “This daily journey underscored my commitment to my academic pursuits and reinforced my resolve to succeed against all odds,” he said. 

Rodriguez’ hard work and determination was recognized in Summer 2023, when he received the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship, further propelling him toward his goal of becoming a math teacher. Additionally, he earned a place on the dean’s list for his outstanding academic achievements. 

“As I approach graduation, I am proud to be the first mathematics major in my family and to graduate with honors,” he said. 

With plans to enroll in the credential program at Stan State and create a scholarship program for future first-generation college students, Rodriguez’s ambition is unlimited.  

“Ultimately, my goal is to make a lasting impact on the educational landscape of the Central Valley, creating a legacy of empowerment and opportunity for generations to come,” he said. 

#StanGrad File


Miguel Rodriguez 


Winton, CA


Bachelor of Science in Mathematics

What memories stand out most from your time at Stanislaus State?

“Being able to communicate with my peers inside and outside of the classroom made my college experience at Stan State more enjoyable. Another memorable experience was the walks around campus to unwind from academic responsibilities.” 

Which faculty or staff member had the greatest impact on you, and why?

“Dr. Jessica De Silva, a math professor, and Jesus ‘Chuy’ Verdugo, an academic advisor for Student Support Services Trio, profoundly impacted my years at Stan State. They both provided unwavering support and guidance throughout my college journey. From helping me navigate course selections to writing recommendation letters for scholarships, their support was invaluable. Their assistance extended beyond academics; they offered crucial emotional support, particularly after the passing of my grandmother in 2019. In summary, their steadfast encouragement and guidance were essential throughout my college experience.” 

What advice would you give to current and future students?

“In addition to building relationships with peers, advisors and professors, I highly advise current and future students to actively engage in extracurricular activities and take advantage of campus resources. Enhance your college experience by participating in clubs, organizations or campus events, which will not only broaden your network but also help you develop valuable skills outside of the classroom. While academics are important, remember to prioritize your mental health and well-being by making time for activities that bring joy and relaxation.” 

Note: This article is part of the StanGrad series highlighting Stanislaus State students who are part of the Class of 2024. Read more StanGrad profiles.