As a veteran, a first-generation college student, a Capital alumnus, and a counselor, Anthony Rodriguez’s life is a combination of achieved goals and optimism for the future.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that life is a learning process. I don’t have to define myself by just one thing. I’m always looking for continual growth, no matter what that looks like,” said Rodriguez. “Even when I was younger, I always saw myself working with youth. Teaching seemed very overwhelming, but I found my purpose in counseling.”
Through his work in local schools and as an adaptive behavior specialist at St. Vincent Family Center, Rodriguez has witnessed firsthand the ability to effect change in someone else’s life through counseling.
“We all like to fix problems, but as counselors, we’re not fixing people. We’re listening and learning how to understand people, working to normalize everybody’s problems and situations,” said Rodriguez. “If we all approached others through a counseling lens and just learned how to listen, we would all be able to cohabitate better. I feel like sometimes we forget that we’re all just human.”
As a first-generation college student, Rodriguez’s education at Capital had a special meaning for both him and his family.
“My diploma means everything to me. I come from the west side of Columbus, on the Hilltop. I have moved all over, but a majority of my life I spent right here in Central Ohio,” said Rodriguez. “I’m the first in my family to attend college. It’s a big thing. One thing that my father has always instilled in me is that education is key. Especially for someone like me, who comes from where I come from, getting my diploma was such an empowering feeling.”
After graduating high school at age 16, he joined the Army at 17 years old and served for eight years, including a deployment in Iraq.
“I began my career in the military and thought I was set for the rest of my life. I didn’t see any other path. College didn’t seem like an option at that time because I didn’t know how. No one in my family went to college, and no one could really help me achieve my goal. My sister was actually planning on going into the military and was working with a recruiter at that time,” said Rodriguez.
“I fell in love with the idea of being in the military. I love meeting new people and experiencing new cultures, which I had the opportunity to do a lot of in different countries. Even now, I’m really able to adapt to any environment due to that experience.”
After leaving the military, Rodriguez moved to New York City to attend Berkeley College and earn his undergraduate degree in Business Administration. Through an opportunity with AmeriCorps, he worked in the Bronx directly with students in a school. The experience reignited his passion for working with youth and making a difference in their lives.
In 2018, with his degree in hand, Rodriguez had achieved one of his greatest dreams, and yet he still felt like he hadn’t quite found his purpose yet.
“I moved back to Ohio, got a job, and a very tiny studio apartment in Franklin Park, right down the street from Capital. I would drive by campus almost every day and felt something drawing me in. However, I always thought it was way out of my range. I honestly never thought I would finish my bachelor’s degree, let alone get a master’s degree,” said Rodriguez.
Due to COVID-19 in 2020, Rodriguez was laid off and unable to pay his bills. This challenging time led him to apply to Capital’s Master of Education in Counselor Education program.
“I knew that I had to do something about my life and couldn’t sit around being sad for myself,” said Rodriguez. “I wasn’t raised in a place like Bexley, so at times, it seemed impossible. I thought, why would I even dream about going to a school like this? Now I know that attending Capital has been the greatest decision I have ever made, because I made lifelong friends, networked with other professionals in my field, and learned skills that I would’ve never been able to develop elsewhere.”
Rodriguez graduated from Capital in 2022 with his M.A.Ed. and is currently enrolled in the doctoral program in Educational Leadership at the University of Dayton. He recently got his New York counseling license and will be moving in the fall to start working as a school counselor.
“I would say that Capital will make you feel included no matter where you come from. You are never alone because your peers and faculty will be there to help you through to the finish line,” said Rodriguez. “Everyone has the same goal: to see you succeed.”
To learn more about Capital’s Counselor Education program, visit https://www.capital.edu/counselor-education-maed/.