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All because of a horse...

By: Morgan Edwards

in need of training to learn how


to be part of a group, how to be
education PhD
successful, and they needed to
Candidate can
know the purpose of engaging in
usually be found
group activities, Rodriguez said.
leading a class
I created a six-week training
discussion in
program with sessions about group
an intercultural
leadership, communication and
communication
time management.
course; however,
Rodriguez returned to UF to
her unique cultural background
pursue her PhD and is expecting to
and experiences that make her so
graduate in August. Currently, she
successful are unknown to many.
is researching the country of Jordan
Mary Rodriguez grew up
to understand influencing factors
in the state of Texas where she
on peoples behaviors and choices.
lived in a diverse household. Her
Rodriguez said she is passionate
parents, who are Columbian and
about research that makes a
Nicaraguan, were immigrants to
difference in peoples lives, so she
the United States in the late 1970s. When I turned 15, my parents asked me hopes to continue exploring
She said, I learned Spanish
if I wanted a Quinceanera or a horse, and agricultural issues in the future,
first, and then I learned English in of course I chose a horse, she said.
particularly food security.
school.
Mary has faced adversity that
When her 15th birthday
many of us will never know, yet
arrived, her parents offered to give
she manages to persist and even
her a Quinceanera, which is what
excel, Roberts said. Her cultural
the typical Latina girl receives at
background gives her a unique
15. However, Rodriguez wanted
perspective that allows her to
something else for her birthday.
see things different than many of
When I turned 15, my parents
us.
asked me if I wanted a Quinceanera
Rodriguez received her masters
or a horse, and of course I chose a
in agricultural education, and her
horse, she said.
thesis focused on best practices for
This present is what sparked
study abroad programs.
her interest in agriculture, and is
In 2010, Rodriguez was
ultimately what helped her decide
presented with the opportunity
Rodriguez met Johanizou while serving
to pursue a career in the field.
to serve two years in the Peace
in the Peace Corps in Cameroon.
She said, I started getting really
Corps. She lived in the country of
Marys future potential is
interested in animal agriculture,
Cameroon, which is located in Sub
unlimited, Roberts said. She
and I decided I had to go to Texas
Sahara Western Africa. Rodriguez
has just accepted a position at
A&M, and I had to be an Aggie.
went to Cameroon as an agroOhio State University, and I look
Rodriguez said she is the only
forestry volunteer, but realized that
forward to watching her make
one in her family that is engaged
she wanted to impact the country
a difference in the lives of her
in agriculture. She said she wanted
in a different way.
students and people from around
to teach people about her passion,
I found that women were
the world. I
which is why she enrolled at Texas

This extension

A&M University in College Station,


Texas.
Rodriguez received her
bachelors degree in agricultural
science, as well as her teaching
certificate making her eligible to
teach grades six through 12 in the
state of Texas.
Grady Roberts, University of
Florida Department of Agricultural
Education and Communication
professor, met Rodriguez while
he was teaching at Texas A&M.
Rodriguez was one of his
undergraduate students, and when
he took a position at UF in 2008,
he recruited her to complete her
masters degree in the department.