Coming to Missouri brought Michael Rodrigues closer to his values.
Rodrigues chose Missouri State after starting college in Texas. His first attempt at college was less than optimal.
His previous college lacked adequate support for students with disabilities. He decided to return to school in Missouri, after a couple of surgeries. Vocational rehabilitation also helped him decide on Missouri State.
Resources that connect
Missouri State values diversity and inclusion. This value was especially important for Michael. He sought out options for supporting our university’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
“I wanted to do my part in making sure the campus stayed as diverse and inclusive as it should be.”
He found resources on campus that were helpful, including the Disability Resource Center (DRC), the Learning Diagnostic Clinic(LDC), Adult Student Services, office of student engagement (OSE), Student Government Association (SGA) and the bookstore.
He built connections with individuals in those offices, including Andrea Greer, assistant director, student engagement, co-curricular involvement and Justin Lozano, director of the Disability Resource Center.
“The fact that it dealt with inclusion was also important. This campus was meant to be a very inclusive campus,” Rodrigues says.
Getting involved and giving back
When he started back to school, he joined campus groups that supported these values. One such group is Advocates for Disabilities.
The group helps the disabled and allies who want to help to advocate for any problems on campus. Michael served as the president for the group. The group does service projects on campus. They also host social events for members and allies.
Another campus group he joined was the Diversity and Inclusion committee. The committee is a part of the Student Government Association. The group hosted the diversity festival that occurs at the end of each spring semester.
For a service project, the committee cleaned out Spectrum’s clothing closet. The closet is available for students who are transitioning and need clothing. It is open to other students in need of clothing, as well.
More to come
Michael set his course on continuing to advocate for others, after he graduated in December. Because of his impact on campus, Rodrigues won the 2018 STAR award for outstanding nontraditional student.
“I want to help a group or minority community, such as the LGBTQ+ or the disabled, succeed in life.”
Rodrigues lists several organizations providing such services. He’s interested in Burrell Transitions, AIDS Project of the Ozarks, or Rare Breed.
He has this advice for nontraditional students: “Don’t be afraid to get involved on campus whether it’s organizations or other activities. Be fearless and don’t be afraid to be involved different things on campus even if you will be doing things with youthful, traditional students.”