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STC Helps Councilwoman Find Power in Education

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STC alumna and Roma Councilwoman Gaby Rodriguez credits the college with the success she has found in office and professionally. Image courtesy of STC
STC alumna and Roma Councilwoman Gaby Rodriguez credits the college with the success she has found in office and professionally. Image courtesy of STC

Texas Border Business

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By Amanda Sotelo

A graduate from the South Texas College Starr County campus, Roma Councilwoman Gaby Rodriguez recalls how the college gave her the chance to pursue her dreams.

Married and a mom by 17, Rodriguez said she was a girl from a small town with big dreams, so having a college close to home was an advantage she didn’t take for granted. 

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“Having local access to a college like STC was a game changer for me, and it continues to change lives,” she said. “I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do when I first stepped foot on campus, but advice and mentorship from my professors changed that.” 

She remembered growing up and knowing she wanted to help people, be an advocate, so passing along the message to her instructors, they guided her toward social work, and she’s led a successful career in the field since then.

Rodriguez went on to graduate in 2003 with an associate degree in Social Work and started her career with Texas Health and Human Services. She went on to work for Workforce Solutions in Roma and the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services.

Professionally, she currently serves as a Public Health and Preventative Specialist and Community Health Instructor for the Department of State Health Services. 

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“I would not be able to do any of the things I am doing now, if it was not for STC,” she said. “I think about it often, and believe it or not, but it was a two-year degree that started it all. STC is a true treasure in our community.” 

Despite everything Rodriguez had accomplished, she said she was still missing a bachelor’s degree, so in 2016 she got one – a Bachelor of Applied Science in Organizational Leadership.

“This is the degree that encouraged me to run for a place on the city council,” she said. “This is where I really grew as a leader. And the advice I received from instructors, which has always stuck with me is: ‘Being a leader is doing the work I am asking my team to do.’”

Rodriguez added she is the first in her family to pursue a political career, so it was her need to help others, to see her community grow and to provide more opportunity to the citizens of Roma, that sealed the deal for her. 

Through her job as a public health and preventative specialist she provides resources and information such as prenatal classes, car seat inspections and water safety, so she said as councilwoman she gets to provide resources and help her community on a larger scale. 

“Both my jobs allow me to touch lives, save lives and keep our community safe; for me that’s a dream come true,” she said. “And to be on a council and to have a mayor, whose vision and goals align is what allows us to move forward, make improvements and bring new ventures. I’m proud of what we’re bringing to Roma to build our city.” 

The councilwoman has returned to STC’s Starr County campus since graduating to share her message of encouragement with students. 

“I’m proud to be an STC alumna; I’m proud of STC, period,” she said. “The college serves our communities and educates our future leaders. It teaches us real-world skills, invests in our success and helps us find excitement in our futures. My life has changed tremendously because of STC, and I’m going to use this to build up others.” 

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