DVIDS – News – Best of three worlds: Michigan National Guard Major Rebecca Rodriguez
LANSING, Michigan – The Michigan National Guard values and celebrates the diversity and dynamic backgrounds of the military within our ranks. Throughout the year, as we recognize the unique contributions these courageous men and women make to our training, we want to share some of their stories with you. This month, as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we asked Major Rebecca Rodriguez to share her story.
“It’s my way of thinking; I really have the best of three worlds, ”said Major Rebecca Rodriguez, Executive Staff Officer in the 46th Military Police Command. “The best of Puerto Rico, Mexico and the United States of America.”
A single Latina mother of two, Rodriguez serves full time in the Michigan National Guard as an Active Guard Reserve (AGR) at Joint Forces Headquarters based in Lansing. In her limited free time, she also competes in professional competitions as a fitness model, traveling to national competitions across the country.
When not competing, she enjoys cheat days filled with Mexican food and drink, including the cold and creamy rice, milk, vanilla and cinnamon drink called horchata (pronounced “gold -CHAW-ta “).
“Drinking horchata was definitely a staple in my house growing up,” says Rodriguez. “It was something we looked forward to when we were kids; it didn’t happen every day. My mom would make this sweet milk as a treat, so now when I get the chance to order a horchata, I definitely go for it!
Rodriguez is the highly motivated product of a Puerto Rican father and Mexican mother. She was born and raised in Adrian, which is home to a large Hispanic population. She learned gratitude from a young age, seizing the first opportunities in her community.
“It comes down to an opportunity and giving back,” she explains. “The best way to give back to our community is through service. When I look at young soldiers starting their military careers, even when I look at my own children, I want them to be proud of their past and their culture, and to appreciate the opportunities that the United States offers.
Rodriguez says she never forgets her Hispanic roots and the opportunities available to her as a U.S. citizen who has chosen to serve her country in the military.
“While my father was born and raised in Puerto Rico, my mother and grandmother were both born in the United States,” Rodriguez shares. “Working in fields and on farms, the maternal side of the family migrated from Texas through the Midwest and then ended up in Michigan due to the need for migrant farm workers, picking cherries, tomatoes. and strawberries. My mother continued to work in the fields even after having children before continuing her studies in English at the University of Siena Heights.
“I’m the first generation my family chose to stay in one place here in Michigan because my mom was pursuing a career in teaching,” she adds.
Rodriguez’s mother put an emphasis on education, which ultimately led to her graduating from the University of Michigan. She started attending in 2000 and experienced the tragedy of September 11 in her sophomore year.
Rodriguez explains: “When September 11 happened, it was really devastating. Not only did it change my whole life path, but also that of many people of my generation, especially those who chose to do military service. “
Something that really encouraged Rodriguez during this difficult time was to remember his Hispanic heritage.
“My Latino friends influenced me to join a Hispanic advocacy group called La Voz (meaning The Voice),” Rodriguez shares. “It was designed to support the Latino community by raising awareness of opportunities Latinos might not have experienced, especially in employment and education.”
Rodriguez explains how this organization has given what she calls the Latin American “silent minority” a voice they might not otherwise have.
“I really liked this organization because one of the problems that plagues many Latin American communities is that they don’t always stand up for their rights,” Rodriguez shares. “There is also a tendency not to pass on our Spanish language to the next generation. They want to be fully American and speaking English helps them better integrate them into American society. “
Joining this organization is also what inspired Rodriguez to join the military and give more back. But first, she decided to study developing country health care in the Dominican Republic during her third year of college.
“At one point, I lived in a neighborhood that had no running water or electricity,” says Rodriguez. “I teamed up with a friend from the Peace Corps on a project to help bring a filtration system to a community in the north of the Dominican Republic that previously had no running water.”
Working with the Peace Corps, Rodriguez not only completed the filtration system to help filter out some of the parasites that plagued the community, but she also taught people how to maintain the system and participated in educational programs for women. .
“When I came back from the Dominican Republic to the United States, I experienced something I call reverse culture shock,” Rodriguez shares. “I had gotten used to living with very few amenities or luxuries, things like hot showers, electricity and plumbing that we take for granted here in America. It gave me a new appreciation for what we have in this country.
During her final year at the University of Michigan, she resumed studies in biopsychology and cognitive science. She began to realize how her degree in biopsychology could relate to government and military service.
“I saw an opportunity with this type of education and training,” Rodriguez shares. “So I was interested in giving back that way. This is essentially what led me to pursue a career in the military.
After graduating from Officer Candidate School, Rodriguez was commissioned in March 2011 and almost immediately deployed to Afghanistan as a transport officer with the 1461st Transport Company, leading convoy operations during the ‘Operation Enduring Freedom.
“When I was deployed, we gave out awards within our organization and I received something called The Patriot Award,” Rodriguez shares. “My soldiers said, ‘Ma’am, every time you shoot us, you always inflate us!'”
Reflecting on her military career, Rodriguez shares how very lucky she feels to have chosen this path.
“For me, being in uniform and in a position where I can lead and provide opportunities for people, whether through education or leadership development, is what we are ultimately striving for,” she shares. “I want to offer this to people while standing up for the American way of life.”
Taking the time to reflect on Hispanic Heritage Month is important to Rodriguez for many reasons. There is no doubt that diversity is imperative in any healthy organization.
At this point, Rodriguez adds, “It’s not just about Hispanic Heritage Month, it’s about diversity and inclusion. Whether Hispanic, African American, Christian or Muslim, male or female, it is essential for organizations to actively involve people from diverse backgrounds, to strengthen the organization and to improve the leadership climate.
Rodriguez sees himself as a role model. Using her Hispanic heritage, she makes the most of opportunities and encourages others to do the same.
“I know in the Michigan National Guard there are a lot of underrepresented military personnel who are very talented,” Rodriguez shares. “I offer hope, encouragement and try to give a voice to these servicemen by basing my leadership philosophy on bondage. I am constantly working to open doors of opportunity to demonstrate that everyone, regardless of race or creed, is capable of doing so much within our organization and within our communities in general. “
She adds: “This way of life was given to me. Now I am fighting hard to make sure others can experience this gift as well. ”
|Date posted:||25.10.2021 09:42|
|Site:||LANSING, MI, United States|
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