Daniel Rodriguez, a fourth-year student majoring in communication, is president of SPHINX Senior Class Honorary and head mentor in the Latino Leadership Development Institute. Rodriguez was awarded a Second Year Transformational Experience Program (STEP) grant to self-publish his book of original poems and short stories, The Peregrine Muse. He has sold nearly 300 copies.
Why did you do a STEP Signature Project?
I did this because I believed in the message of STEP, in this abstract concept of transformation. I had no idea where the path led, but it was evident to me that I would emerge a better student and person at the end of the experience. Thus, I trusted the process, my mentor, my peers and my instincts, and this eventually led me to discover a great amount about my writing and myself.
Who was your STEP faculty mentor?
Bernadette Vankeerbergen (program director, curriculum and assessment, College of Arts and Sciences)
Was having a STEP faculty mentor helpful and why?
Absolutely! Bernadette was there from the start to encourage me and help me along in the proposal writing process. She made our cohort meetings fun and helpful, and there was always time for introspection, which was crucial in deciding what I wanted to do with my STEP grant. It’s because of Bernadette that my proposal won the Best of the Best award for Artistic and Creative Endeavors from STEP, and her good word eventually got me an audience with the Board of Trustees, which was an incredible and unforgettable honor.
Why did you decide to self publish a book of poems and short stories?
Truly, this was a dream of mine since my youth. My grandfather wrote a book of bedtime stories when I was about five years old, and ever since, I have aspired to do the same. I had already been writing my book when STEP came along and afforded to me the opportunity to fund my project. The rest is history.
What was the best part of your experience?
Certainly, I have to say that the introspection that came along with the writing process was invaluable. My thoughts developed in ways that I never thought possible, and my writing brought a perspective that I had long downplayed as unimportant. Also, the community and support that developed around me was such a precious resource without which the book would have never been possible.
Why did you get involved in the Latino Leadership Development Institute (LLDI)?
Having come from a community and a school system comprised entirely of white and black, with not much brown in between, the idea of finding a Latino community at Ohio State was exciting. LLDI had a deep and pervasive impact upon me as an individual, and I eventually took over the role of head mentor and assistant curriculum developer. I felt in my heart that the power of this program had to be shared to the fullest of its potential, with those young Latinos who wanted to reach the fullest of their own potentials. Three years later, I can look back knowing and truly believing that we accomplished just that.
See how #ASCSpotlight @dROD911 is using his @OSU_STEP grant to self-publish a book of #poetry and short stories #ASCDaily