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Gabrielle Rodriguez Became Sober and Started RooCovery

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Foreign Languages and Literatures – Spanish | College of Arts and Sciences | December 2016

Why did you choose UMKC?

I chose UMKC to stay close to family and friends. I grew up in Lee’s Summit and graduated from Lee’s Summit North.

Why did you choose Spanish?

I chose Foreign Languages and Literature – Spanish to learn the language of my family. English was the language of my household growing up, but with the majority of my family having Spanish as their first language, it was important to me to be able to communicate with them.

Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself?

I have learned quite a lot. I did not completely apply myself during my first round at UMKC. My grades were not a priority, and I was not involved on campus. I dropped out of UMKC in 2011 following the study abroad program to Granada, Spain. Since dropping out I came out to my family, got sober, got engaged, bought a house, married and returned to school. Upon returning to UMKC in fall 2015, I made it a point to be more involved and learn about all of the resources available to students on campus. I became involved with LGBTQIA+ Programs & Services and helped start UMKC’s collegiate recovery community called RooCovery. With LGBTQIA+ Programs and Services I was able to attend MBLGTACC (the nation’s largest LGBTQIA college conference) 2015 at Purdue University.

My work with starting RooCovery provided me a job opportunity with the Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC) housed in the School of Nursing and Health Studies on Hospital Hill. With this position, I was able to attend the 7th National Collegiate Recovery Conference in April 2016 as both a representative for UMKC and ATTC.

Are you a first generation college student?

Yes, I am. Honestly, at first, it felt like a lot of pressure. I grew up hearing “go to college,” but with little to no guidance on the process. As a recent transfer to UMKC in 2010, people would ask me what I was going to school for and I would respond, “my parents.” Now that I have returned to UMKC for my own personal accomplishment, it feels great. I also have a better understanding as to why my parents pushed it so much.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor?

The best advice I have ever received from a professor is to never hold back in applying to my dream job when it presents itself. Even if it doesn’t happen, it puts my name out there.

Who do you admire most at UMKC?

It is hard to choose one person. I admire both Susan Garrett (School of Nursing and Health Studies) and Matthew Edwards (Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures). Susan Garrett provided the best advice I have received from a professor. She is incredibly inspiring and encouraging. She is welcoming and always has a positive outlook. Matthew Edwards is passionate about the content he teaches and about his students which makes for a very entertaining learning experience. I have thoroughly enjoyed having them both as professors.

What are the challenges of the Spanish program?

The challenges I face in the program are more personal, and it is doubting my ability to speak Spanish. Growing up with English as my first language in a family that learned Spanish as their first language has provided many obstacles in learning a language I feel I should already know.

What are the benefits of the Spanish program?

The benefits of the program are the numerous study abroad opportunities that increase fluency and cultural awareness through immersion. My college program has inspired me to use Spanish to help families like mine communicate more effectively in health care settings especially as it relates to mental health.

What’s your favorite social media channel?

Instagram because I can weed out the negativity easier than Facebook.

What’s your favorite spot to eat in Kansas City?

Oh, that’s a tough one. I will have to go with El Patron.

What’s your greatest fear?

Relapse, and settling for a job to just pay bills instead of following my dreams.

What is one word that best describes you?

Honest. Before sobriety, I was never honest. Since sobriety, it has been impossible for me to lie even this smallest fib. I am always honest, and tend to stick to those who also offer it.


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