Rebekah “Becky” Rodriguez, was awarded the Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Summer Institute at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Becky will spend seven weeks over the summertime in a “graduate school” boot camp learning about applied economics and statistics while networking with some of the most important state and federal officials. This also includes a minimum of $5,000 for one of their consortium graduate institutions. Becky is FGCU's first PPIA JSI recipient.
How did your mentor encourage and foster your research and academic trajectory?
I would not be where I am today without several professors who have supported me. Dr. Motley, who has encouraged me since day one in Old Weird America and written many recommendation letters for me since (and there’s more to come). Dr. Bourgeois, the first professor who allowed me to research under him and fostered my passion for psychology research. Dr. Schuller, who has since agreed to mentor me through an Honors Thesis. Finally, Mr. Bill O’Dell, who over 2 years has become more of a friend than just a professor. His passion for helping others inspires me to give back to my community, and his constant support of all my endeavors encourages me always. I know should I need any advice, help, or just someone to talk to, he will be there with wise words, jokes, and (probably) snacks.
What does the OCF mean to you?
The Office of Competitive Fellowships filled a hole at FGCU that we didn’t even know was there. While providing the numerous opportunities related to scholarships and fellowships, the office has also built a great community of like-minded students to collaborate, cry, and celebrate with. Not only the other students, but the OCF has also given me the greatest advisor and most important mentor I’ve had in Dr. Terumi. He is, of course, a wonderful resource for finding opportunities, but also encourages me and believes in me even when I don’t believe in myself. It would not be possible for me to be where I am today without this office.
What is the Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Summer Institute?
The Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Summer Institute at the Hubert H Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota has been around for 40 years and has produced 4000 public servants and leaders. This is a highly competitive award with over 600+ applicants per year for 120 awards.
Becky is a Latina from the Rockledge, Florida who has overcome Amniotic Band Syndrome (ABS), a congenital condition that causes limb differences, in this case affecting both hands. When she was born, doctors immediately told her parents that she would never write, draw, tie her own shoes, and definitely never play sports or music. Thankfully they were wrong, playing the guitar and piano are among her top hobbies. Becky's current research on the perception of limb differences is interdisciplinary in nature. Becky plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, focusing on pediatrics and disabilities to work with children who are facing “disabling” conditions. She hopes to encourage them to believe in themselves by using psychologically proven methods, as well as encouraging participation in adapted activities like music. For her efforts, Becky was awarded the University nomination to apply for the Marshall Scholarship to study in the United Kingdom for a graduate degree