Esthefania Rodriguez ’10

Esthefania Rodriguez ’10, Cornell University Senior; Biology major

What happens when you mix quiet determination with a whole lot of smarts, a little stubbornness and a heart the size of Mt. Washington? You get Esthefania Rodriguez ’10. Esthy and her family emigrated from Colombia to New Jersey when she was in the fifth grade. She and her middle sister enrolled in public school, knowing barely a word of English. To make her sister feel less lonely and more confident in their new setting, Esthy would ‘read’ a book to her in English in their school library. She told her little sister, Lina, that if she had learned how to read in their new language so quickly, Lina could too. Comforted, Lina renewed her determination to learn English, not knowing until years later that Esthy had been pretending to read the book that day in the library.

Esthy’s hard work in elementary school earned her a place in the NJ SEEDS program. She thrived at SEEDS and went on to The White Mountain School in her freshman year. Finding herself again in an unfamiliar setting, but this time without her mother and sisters at her side, Esthy did what she does best: she embraced what the world had to offer her and made it her own. This city girl pushed her personal comfort zone, participating in everything from rock climbing and white water kayaking to studying abroad in the Bahamas at the Island School and being elected judge in the WMS student government. Putting her understanding of a world beyond US borders to good use, Esthy participated in an exchange program where she lived in France for three weeks during the summer with a host family.

After four years at WMS, Esthy matriculated to the Honors Program at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She declared her Biology major and began an undergraduate research position in Dr. Benedict Lucchesi’s Cardiovascular Pharmacology lab. In her sophomore year, Esthy transferred to Cornell University and anticipates completing her BS in Biology in the spring of 2014.

While at Cornell, Esthy has remained an outstanding scholar, an involved citizen and a student leader.  Most recently, Esthy’s work took her to Washington, DC, where she is working at L&M Policy Research, a firm of health care consultants. Last summer, Esthy was an intern at the New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center where she observed pediatric procedures and worked as a liaison between doctors and families of young children, describing medical procedures in developmentally appropriate language.

What is next for Esthefania? The opportunities are endless but she is considering various careers in health care including, medical school, nursing school, law school and public health.

How did WMS influence her? She states, “WMS was the nurturing environment where I polished many of the skills that have made me successful today. The faculty’s passion and approachability allowed me to feel excited about learning and confident about asking for the things I needed. This firm confidence is how I obtained many of my internships. I walked into Dr. Luchessi’s laboratory at U of M, told him I was very interested in learning about cardiovascular pharmacology and asked him to hire me. I’d just graduated high school! I did the same thing with my current employer- I called L&M Policy and Research, told them I was interested in learning about health care policy (even though I had no background in policy). They hired me! My employers like that I go out of my way for the things that I want. WMS helped me develop as a person interested in and capable of learning in new environments. I am not afraid to jump into things I want to learn about.”

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