First-generation student pursues her passion to study birds

Marina Rodriguez, a senior studying wildlife biology at Colorado State, exemplifies the academic excellence Colorado State University encourages.

Rodriguez landed at CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources in 2011 after researching wildlife biology programs from her home in San Antonio, Texas. After taking an ornithology class her freshman year, she discovered a passion for birds.

Since that time, Rodriguez has conducted research on the effects that calcium supplements have in tree swallows at CSU’s Mountain Campus. She’s worked as a teaching and lab assistant in the Warner College of Natural Resources for and is currently a lab technician for the USDA National Wildlife Research Center.

Rodriguez will be the first member of her family to graduate from college. “As a first-generation student, I’m motivated to set an example for my younger siblings, to show them that college can be a possibility even if it isn’t a priority in your family,” she said.

The moral support Rodriguez received from professors and peers at CSU was just as valuable as the scholarships she’s received. “The support system in the Warner College is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Everyone is rooting for your success and it really makes a difference to know that people believe in you,” she said.

Rodriguez is a role model and leader for her peers, taking part in a number of student clubs, including Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences, since her freshman year. She currently serves as president of that organization. Rodriguez also helped establish a new organization, SEEDS (Strategies for Ecology Education Diversity and Sustainability), to help encourage diversity within the college.

Following graduation, Rodriguez plans on pursuing a graduate degree in wildlife biology and to advance bird conservation efforts. Her advice to first-generation and minority students is to follow your passions, even if the road looks impossible at first; there are always resources to help and people to support your endeavors.



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