Janelis Rodriguez on paying it forward

Janelis Rodriguez

"My life hasn’t been the best. Since birth, I’ve been surrounded by drugs, sex and violence. Growing up, we moved constantly - at least once or twice a year. As a child I didn’t question it, but now I know it was because we had been evicted. I’ve been through a lot, but I’m proud to say that it made me crave success in life. I always went to school, never liked being late or missing class, made the best grades I could and got involved in my community early on. From a young age, I’ve pushed myself to be the very best I can be and not depend on others to help.

Many people take life, kindness and even other people for granted. They feel entitled and never pay it forward. I am the total opposite. This scholarship has taught me that people who have suffered can be noticed and appreciated, as well or better than those who just get handed things in life. I live each and every day to the fullest because I know the people who selected me for this scholarship believe in me.

I am currently working on my Associate in Arts degree at Eastern Florida State College. I have a 3.7 GPA, and I volunteer for the Office of Student Recruitment on the Melbourne campus. I am one semester away from graduating. My goal as I proceed in college is to get a 3.8 GPA and possibly join the Honors Program. I have decided to become a social worker with a main focus on helping young, troubled children.

I want to thank the Eastern Florida State College Foundation and the Gail McKinley Memorial Scholarship selection committee for giving me the chance to have a successful future and make my career dreams come true. Without you, this year wouldn’t have been possible. Honestly, being selected as the recipient is one of my greatest achievements, as well as a great honor."