Clemson University junior Julio Rodriguez learned many things from his parents, but two lessons that stick out as he pushes toward graduation is the value of an education and a strong work ethic.
Julio, who is majoring in electrical engineering, said that he grew up knowing that his father, Jose, and mother, Maria, wanted him and his three sisters to go to school and make something of themselves.
In middle school, Julio started working with his father, a painting contractor, during the summers and school breaks. In high school, Julio kept helping his father but also picked up a job at a fast food restaurant.
“My parents prepared me to be here, and me being here is the best fit for me,” Julio said. “I really enjoy school. I love it here. I have found a community here.”
Julio, who is from Easley, is now serving as president of the Clemson chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). He started with the chapter as a freshman and hasn’t missed a single meeting.
As president, Julio arranges for representatives from companies to speak to SHPE members, encounters that sometimes result in internship and co-op opportunities. He also joined SHPE members at Sevier Middle School in Greenville for hands-on STEM demonstrations and a tutorial on getting into college as part of Noche de Ciencias.
“This is a chance for me to speak to parents,” Julio said. “This is a chance for kids to see what we do in college and pique their interest.”
Julio is also involved with Latinos Unidos@Clemson University (LUCU), a meetup group, and works for PEER & WISE, a program that aims to attract and retain underrepresented STEM students.
Lisa Jackson, the associate director of PEER, has stood out as particularly supportive in his first two and a half years as Tiger.
It hasn’t all been easy. Julio said he had to study hard freshman and sophomore years but that is he is better for it.
“I really enjoy the struggle because it helps me grow,” Julio said. “It helps me learn. I like taking on challenges.”
Julio is on track to graduate in May 2023. He isn’t sure yet what he wants to do next but has a strong interest in electronics.
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