Mario Rodriguez pictured with his mom, Maria Lusia Rodriguez.

Mom’s Educational Success Inspires Son to Earn Business Degree at WSU Tri-Cities

By Maegan Murray

For as long as Mario Rodriguez could remember, his mother, Maria Luisa Rodriguez, had taken one or two classes at a time, determined to earn her bachelor’s degree in business.

After working an assortment of jobs—in the fields, restaurants, warehouses, and childcare—she and her husband wanted to provide a better life for their family. While Mario Rodriguez and his siblings were out on the playground, his mother would study for a class or complete an assignment—first for her courses at Columbia Basin College and then for her courses at WSU Tri-Cities.

“At an early age, I knew that if I wanted something, I had to work hard in order to achieve it,” Maria Luisa Rodriguez says. “As life created its path for me, I realized that not having a degree would limit me in the dreams and goals I had. I made myself a life goals checklist: Earn a college degree, get a job with purpose and fulfillment, and simply live a good life.”

So when Mario Rodriguez decided to pursue his own path toward earning a college degree at WSU Tri-Cities, he wanted to make his mom proud.

“Her being in school always motivated me,” he says. “She took a class or two while raising us. She is really inspiring.”

Saving Money and Getting an Excellent Education

Rodriguez chose WSU Tri-Cities as his own college option after studying at another college campus for a year. He could live at home, save money, remain close to his family, and get an excellent, well-rounded education.

In his classes, Rodriguez says he enjoyed learning from professors who are “passionate, in-tune with business needs of today, and really engaging with their teaching.”

He chose to pursue a double degree option—studying digital technology and culture, and specializing in graphic design and video production, and business administration. He is working to grow his foundational knowledge in business, which can be applied to marketing and running a multimedia marketing firm.

“I have had classes with business professor Jesus Bravo, who was super into the subjects he was speaking about,” he says. “He would talk to you about the products you have in a business, how to keep your business relevant, and why many businesses fail or succeed.”

“Our professors teach us material that is applicable today, and they constantly engage us and ask us questions to make us feel important and that our feedback matters,” he says.

On-campus Opportunities to Spur Potential Career in Marketing

Rodriguez has had the opportunity to work in several capacities on campus that support his goal of pursuing a marketing career.

He worked in the Office of Professional Development and Community Education where he designed flyers, created materials, and helped manage office duties. This provided him with insight into how an office worked.

Because his mother worked for the Running Start Program at WSU Tri-Cities, he had the opportunity to use what he learned through his digital technology and culture classes to take photos and video to be used by the program. These opportunities helped showcase his talents to the university Marketing and Communications Office, which recruited him to work as an intern.

In the that role, Rodriguez blends his passion for design with his business skills to produce materials ranging from video features, to plans for social media marketing, to designs that are used for flyers, and other marketing materials.

“It’s cool to be able to work on projects that will highlight our campus and be used for real marketing purposes,” he says. “I am applying what I’m learning while still going to school.”

From Mother to Son

Last spring, Rodriguez witnessed his mother receive her diploma for a bachelor degree in business from WSU Tri-Cities. She is now using her degree as a program coordinator for the Carson College of Business at WSU Tri-Cities.

“Seeing her walk across that stage made me really proud, and it made me want to live up to her example,” Mario Rodriguez says.

Now, he looks forward to making his mom proud by following in her footsteps while setting forth in his own path in marketing.

Mario Rodriguez completed his digital technology and culture degree last spring and now is finishing his bachelor’s in business administration with the goal of one-day working for a multimedia or advertising firm.

Maria Luisa Rodriguez says she couldn’t be more proud of her son.

“I constantly remind Mario that there are no limits to your dreams and to never let anything stop you from achieving them,” she says.

“There will be times where you will want to give up and wonder ‘Why am I doing this?’ But nothing beats the feeling of walking across that stage, receiving your degree, and shaking the hands of the people who supported, guided, and motivated you along the way,” she says.