Wolverine Stories: Jose Rodriguez

I take great pride in being a first-generation student at UVU. My parents motivate me to be the best student, worker, and person I can be.

Jose Rodriguez

My name is Jose Rodriguez. I am a junior studying computer science and serve as the University College senator for the Utah Valley University Student Association (UVUSA). My parents emigrated to the United States from Mexico at the age of 20. Not knowing any English, they came here to make a better life for their family. My dad grew up on a ranch and was pulled out of school in sixth grade to help provide for his family. Meanwhile, my mom was able to reach the seventh grade until her parents also took her out of school. With language, educational, and cultural barriers, their journey was difficult — but they persevered nonetheless.

I was born in Orem, Utah, the oldest child of four in my family. Growing up, we moved from apartment to apartment due to our financial struggles. My parents were still learning English when I was young, so, as a result, we only spoke Spanish at home. The start of my journey learning English began in our living room. I would try to learn English by watching cartoons on the television — excitedly sharing with my mom when I picked up new words. I worked hard to learn English and participated in English learning classes. I became fluent in English by the third grade, surpassing my parents. It was then they put me in charge of translating bills and answering important phone calls for them. I felt pressured to represent them the best that I could during those interactions.

I was an extremely shy kid. I felt embarrassed a lot of the time because my upbringing was very different than my peers. I ate different foods, had different interests, and was raised Catholic. Many of my peers were raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so the religious difference created a disconnect between my peers and me. The other kids discussed their church activities, and that made me feel excluded. My shyness reached a point where my teachers would voice their concerns about my shyness to my mom in parent-teacher conferences. Although I still carry some of this anxiety, I worked hard to get out of my comfort zone and am more extroverted now.

After high school, I came to Utah Valley University for a year but did not perform well. I decided to take a break and work full time at the local Harmons Grocery and part time at Chipotle. During this time, I realized I had aspirations to own a business and that continuing my education was crucial in achieving my dream. With a newfound purpose, I returned to UVU and began exceeding on all levels. 

I also became involved on campus, which made school a more engaging environment for me. I first served as a department representative for the College of Engineering and Technology, which led me to my current position as the UVUSA senator for University College. I get to meet and collaborate with Dean Forrest G. Williams, peers, and other faculty members. The opportunity teaches me more about UVU, and I have made many friends through it.

I have been passionate about computer science since I was little. Growing up, I was the one in my family who would deal with technology troubleshooting. I became and continue to be fascinated by technology, especially new developments. With the 2021-2022 school year being more in-person, I have met more students in my field and have enjoyed sharing my love for technology with them. Before my break from school, I did not make as much of an effort to meet new people. It changed my experience to be able to connect with people at UVU.

I take great pride in being a first-generation student at UVU. My parents motivate me to be the best student, worker, and person I can be. I work hard to honor my parents and the sacrifices they made for our family. My dad works long, intense hours in construction while my mom is busy managing a few businesses, especially her successful cleaning business. Their work takes an intense toll on their bodies. I am striving to be able to provide for them so they can retire and relax. My parents are the most hardworking, positive people that I know, and I am so proud of them.

After I graduate in the spring of 2023, I want to start as a software engineer. After spending time in the industry and developing my programming skills, I want to start my own business. My goal is to be an entrepreneur one day, a desire that stems from my mom’s entrepreneurial spirit rubbing off on me. From her starting a daycare business to her cleaning business, I grew up watching her set an example as a dedicated entrepreneur. When my sister and I were little, we helped her deliver her business cards to houses to help her company grow.

I would also like to use my software and programming skills to help positively impact the environment. I do not have a solidified plan now as to what my exact approach will be, but I am excited to graduate and work toward that goal.