Salisbury University

Karen Rodriguez (2016)

My First Generation Story

Having the opportunity to attend college is a blessing, and I have my parents to thank. They came to America over 30 years ago in search of a better life and to escape the civil war in El Salvador.

Growing up as the youngest of four children allowed me to witness and inherit traits that have shaped me into the individual I am today. My oldest sister, Sandra, is filled with joy and positivity. My admiration for these qualities has led me to pour my love, generosity and compassion into a world filled with adversity and turmoil. My sister Astrid is an inquisitive person always wanting to learn more. She has inspired me to always be curious. My brother, Vladimir, is passionate and determined. He has encouraged me to always stand up for what I believe, love what I do, and never settle for less. All three have been great mentors.

My sisters and brother really made it possible for me to succeed in college. Their wisdom helped me to surpass my expectations and flourish on Salisbury University’s (SU) campus. The anticipation of starting college was filled with emotions ranging from excitement to fear. I was ready to start a new chapter, but I was afraid of not fitting in because of my background.

As I progressed through college, I broke through those walls. I took Sandra’s love and positivity, and was able to unite with my peers. At a national African-American leadership conference, for example, I interacted with students of different backgrounds, and we came together as one. Astrid’s brilliance in exploring helped me reach for the position of president of SU’s Organization for Latin American Students. I have always been a shy person, but I finally came out of my shell in college, including running for that role. Vladimir taught me to always be confident. When applying to be a resident assistant, I did not get accepted at first, but I did not give up; I just came better prepared the next time. I also have Vladimir to thank for helping to lead me to Salisbury. As the first generation in our family to attend college, we both chose SU.

College is about exploring and discovering yourself, and that is what I’ve done. I developed leadership roles and cherished every new experience. My parents provided this opportunity, and my siblings were instrumental in supporting my college career. For that, I thank them.

About the Student

Karen Rodriguez Resized

Karen Rodriguez is from Gaithersburg, Maryland. At Salisbury University, she is the president of the Organization of Latin American Students. She also is a senior resident assistant at University Park Apartments. She is a student office assistant in the New Student Experience Office and a peer leader for Orientation 101.

Student Stats

Name: Karen Rodriguez (2016)
Age: 21
Year in School: Senior
Major: Information Systems
Favorite Course: Project Management
Dream Job: Start a nonprofit to help children in developing countries

About the School

Salisbury 2016

Salisbury University, a member of the University System of Maryland, is a regionally accredited four-year comprehensive institution offering 58 distinct graduate and undergraduate programs. Located on the historic Eastern Shore, SU's beautiful campus is some 30 miles from the Atlantic beaches and 2.5 hours from Baltimore and Washington, D.C.



  • Kellee Edmonds
    Vice President of Communications and Public Relations
    (202) 478-4662