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Magda Rodriquez, a College and Career Counselor at Wharton High School, will be recognized as one of 15 Florida Unsung Heroes of Resilience at the Florida College Access Network (FCAN) Summit in Orlando.
This award recognizes individuals in Florida who have gone above and beyond to provide support to students who have dealt with difficulty situations. Natural disasters and school safety concerns are just two examples of challenges that arose during the 2017-18 school year.
Rodriguez played a major role in providing support, compassion and dedication to students and families in need after a devastating hurricane season.
“I have witnessed and observed that Mrs. Rodriguez has a genuine concern for all students, and her heart cries for those in most need. She would not want me to nominate her because she is not seeking recognition and would much rather prefer being an unsung hero,” said Ansberto Vallejo, HCPS Supervisor for Career and Post-secondary Planning.
In the FCAN nomination letter, Vallejo explained that she not only managed to create a welcoming environment, but supported the newly arrived students from Puerto Rico to graduate on time and continue with their post-secondary plans.
Rodriguez has worked at Wharton for 21 years and is known for her cheerful and energetic persona and helping all students from all backgrounds. When Hurricane Irma hit Puerto Rico, she was already thinking ahead, anticipating the arrival of students. She asked for the support of her administration, counseling staff, community agencies along with student input on how to best welcome the students from Puerto Rico. She also created a student club where all are welcome, especially the students that affected by Hurricane Irma — with food, music and laughter necessary requirements to participate. She has done everything in her power to prepare the students in crisis from Puerto Rico by hosting financial aid workshops, college/career seminars and field trips to the local college.
“I am so honored to be selected! Never in a million years would I have thought it would happen to me. I've been at Wharton for 21 years and the experiences I've had this year with the displaced Puerto Rican students and families has been the absolute highlight of my career,” she said.
With the support of Wharton administration, faculty, staff and students she created the first annual school-wide "parranda," a Puerto Rican-style holiday music festival that helped everything come together in a most wonderful way! The event sold over 225 T-shirts, with proceeds going to families in need. In January they hosted a dinner, where Mrs. Rodriguez had community partners donate rice and beans, families enjoyed a DJ and received resources from a variety of agencies in attendance.
Congratulation Magda Rodriguez, our HCPS Unsung Hero, for going above and beyond to provide extra support for our students. The Wildcats are lucky to have her by their side!