Sebastian Rodriguez graduated from Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep (Waukegan) in 2015 and is currently a member of Johns Hopkins University’s Class of 2019. This interview originally appeared on the Cristo Rey St. Martin website.
When Sebastian Rodriguez projects the mirror of his life a decade into the future, he sees himself working alongside the elite cadre of disease detectives and innovators on the front lines of public health at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta. His career goals and commitment are precise and fully visualized: to combat disease and prevent environmental risks.
“My goal of bettering the lives of those around me would reach its highest peak when I can work for the biggest and most innovative organization that works for nothing more than the safety of the entire nation,” says the 19-year-old Class of 2015 CRSM graduate who is a sophomore at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, MD. “The experience I should have accumulated in 10 years should be enough for me to earn a higher level position within the CDC, and I can already see my high school diploma hanging next to my college diploma in my office.”
It’s the one career path where he knows he can truly use his skills toward an altruistic end. He’s already strategizing how he can give back to “the betterment of my own community: Waukegan/North Chicago, which would be my main objective in my occupation.” Already, he’s rallying forces to launch a scholarship for CRSM students, which he hopes to have in place for the current senior class, which graduates in June of 2017.
“This is my way to show how much I believe in the successful efforts of CRSM’s goal of setting students on a path to do something great with their life,” says Rodriguez who is super proud of his little brother Jose, who is a freshman at CRSM. “And what better way to show my appreciation to the very institution who made me who I am than to give back to those who gave so much?”
As he sets his sights on contributing to health initiatives that will have a strong impact on community health, his determination is built on a strong backbone.
From the get-go, Rodriguez was involved with almost every CRSM club: newspaper, student government, homecoming committee, volleyball, Schuler Scholars, Eco club and choir, mock trial and student government.
“I believe it is because of the wide-range of clubs that were offered at CRSM that I was able to explore almost all facets of creativity and collaborative group-work that shaped me into a balanced and curious student who could appreciate whatever the world had to offer,” he says.
His corporate work-study experience included: EMCO Chemical Distributors and United Conveyor Corporation, which he says shaped his career path.
“During my freshman year, I already knew I was interested in something science related,” he says. “One of my fondest memories from EMCO was being given special permission from my supervisor to spend an entire workday in the chemistry laboratories and observe one of the chemists at work. As my interests turned to engineering, I moved over to UCC and was able to catch my first glimpses of scientists and engineers working together to create more efficient ash disposal technologies to promote a healthier environment. This concept of a health environment would later come to influence my decision.”
Looking forward, he hopes to make the same kind of impact CRSM has made on his own life.
“It would be an understatement to say that CRSM has made a positive impact on my life,” he says. “My education was built upon the values of integrity, hard work, and stewardship. I left CRSM as a student ready for the college world and beyond. The expectations that were placed upon me in college were exactly what I was expecting from high school, and the concept of responsibility and having a solid work ethic I acquired from the Corporate Work Study Program could not be found anywhere else. Of course my fellow students at JHU know what it means to be a good student, though I can’t help but feel more resolute in the faith I have in my background experience.”
He adds: “Above all else, CRSM has taught me that ‘good enough’ should never be my standard. I was taught that hard work means something, and taking the easy way out of a difficult obstacle would never lead to greatness.
“As I carry on with my education, I have my own ideas for my personal best, and I am not satisfied with doing things half-way. CRSM taught me that there is always more that can be done to improve, and to make sure every work I create is reflective of the kind of person I am. ‘Minimal effort’ and ‘meets standards’ are not criteria for any assignment or project that involves me. And I have no one to thank but my parents and my high school for that,” he says.