Alumna Talks ​​About Humanity, Immigration at TEDxHopeCollege

Mar 21, 2023 | Alumni Spotlight

Last February, Venecia Rodriquez took the TEDxHope College stage, where she joined other speakers sharing their stories at the renowned event themed “The Threshold.” The CRSM Class of ‘19 alumna described her parents’ “excruciating weeks’ long journey” to the United States from Mexico. Her mother was pregnant with Venecia at the time.

“My longing is to help immigrants and others who face challenges fulfill their dreams, get the opportunities they deserve and not live in households suffering from the consequences of generational trauma, like my parents and other immigrants,” says Venecia. She is studying social work at Hope College and poised to graduate in May.

Throughout college, she has been tireless in her efforts to advocate on behalf of immigrant rights. The former College Bound Opportunities scholar is an intern at Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates. She was secretary for the college’s Latino Student Organization and is a senior ambassador for Women of Color United.

Immigrating to America

In her TEDx talk, Venecia describes her struggle assimilating in America“I’ve always had to tiptoe to the fact that my parents were immigrants,” she says. “I am not from here, and not from there. Yet, my parents walked 34 hours through a desert, and traveled a week in a car on an excruciating journey, because they wanted a better life for themselves and me. Today I feel blessed to be a citizen, but determined to help others like my family.” 

She is seeking a job in immigrant and mental health advocacy in the Grand Rapids area then plans to return to college for her Master’s degree in social work. Her long-term goal is to return to Waukegan in the future to work for an organization dedicated to making a difference for immigrant and mental health causes.

Lessons from CRSM

“CRSM taught me that it is possible to be a community leader and make changes happen,” says Venecia, “My dream is to create an organization in Waukegan that empowers immigrants and people facing mental health challenges.”

Her advice for CRSM students: “Connect to the different resources that are available to help you. Dream big dreams and don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself.” 

To listen to her TEDx talk, link here.