Hard work pays off for Georgia Gwinnett College senior Benjamin Rodriguez
To Benjamin Rodriguez, hard work isn’t a platitude – it’s a way of life passed down to him from his parents. His father spent three decades managing restaurants, and his mother was an activities director at a nursing home. Rodriguez started working from the time he was old enough to apply for a job. He worked at a fast-food restaurant and as a lifeguard throughout high school. When he enrolled at Georgia Gwinnett College, he knew he’d work his way through that, too.
One of three brothers, Rodriguez was born in White Plains, New York. When he was two, his family moved to Georgia for more opportunities, affordable living and access to relatives. The family settled in downtown Lawrenceville, a five-minute drive from the GGC campus.
The convenient proximity played into Rodriguez’s choice of college. At the time, he didn’t have a car, so he would catch a ride or use Uber to get to school or to his part-time job as an assistant manager at Collins Hill Park Aquatic Center. During his sophomore year he picked up a second job at the GGC Wellness and Recreation Center and worked full-time with both jobs for the rest of his college career.
“For me it wasn’t an option not to work full time, as I had to have a source of income to buy my first car, to pay for school, contribute to my parents’ income, buy groceries, and cover other personal expenses that I knew my parents didn’t have the money for,” he said.
Rodriguez said that while location was a huge plus, it wasn’t the only factor in his decision to attend GGC.
“I felt like there would be a lot more opportunities than there would be at a larger college campus,” he said. “At a smaller campus, you actually get to know your professors on a personal level and connect within the community, leading to more well-defined experiences and opportunities.”
Rodriquez credits his supervisors and fellow classmates for getting him over every bump in the road during his years at GGC.
“Sometimes new realities feel impossible, but GGC has taught me that adversity can be overcome though teamwork,” he said. “My supervisors on campus, my many supportive professors, and my fellow classmates have all helped me through and encouraged me to keep my head up high, especially through my senior year. The GGC community has been such a great support especially during this pandemic. But with their help, I did it.”
Rodriquez will graduate with a bachelor of business administration with a concentration in management information systems and a minor in information technology. He recently landed yet another job – this one using skills he learned at GGC – as a full-time project coordinator at CentricsIT. He eventually wants to become a project manager and ultimately, a business analyst.
Rodriquez reflected on his GGC experience as he prepares to begin the next phase of his life.
“Every interaction, experience and struggle taught me not to give up my big dreams for a small reality.”
Rodriguez will join more than 600 of his classmates at GGC's fall commencement, scheduled for 10 a.m., Dec. 7 at the Gas South Arena.