Determined and Dedicated, Paterson Teen Seeks Help Paying For Student Ambassador Program
Monday, February 20, 2012 • 11:25am
PATERSON, NJ – At the age of 13, Diosmiry Rodriguez had a decision to make. She was living with her mother in the Dominican Republic. But there, her opportunities for education were limited.
“She wanted me to do better,’’ the teenager said of her mother. “I left her side to be here. So I want to make the best of that decision.’’
Rodriguez returned to Paterson, where she had been born and spent her early years. Here, she has chased educational opportunities with passion. A junior at the School of Government and Public Administration at Eastside, Rodriguez serves as president of the student government, corresponding secretary of the National Honor Society, an officer in ROTC, and a member of the Paterson Youth Council.
“She’s a wonderful student,’’ said Mary Garrity, one of Rodriguez’ teachers. “She dedicates a lot of her time to giving for others.’’
Now Rodriguez is asking for some help for herself as she strives to continue to expand her horizons. This year, Rodriguez was the only Paterson student accepted in the People to People Student Ambassador, an education and travel program founded by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. Through People to People, Rodriguez has an opportunity to take a 19-day trip this summer to Italy, Sicily and Greece..
There’s one problem – it costs $6,000. That’s far beyond her family’s means, Rodriguez said. Her father, with whom she lives in Paterson, drives a van transporting people to job sites and doesn’t make nearly enough money to pay for the trip, she said.
“I’m not that wealthy, if I want something, I have to work hard to get it,’’ she said.
Rodriguez has launched a fund-raising campaign to try to raise the money for the program. Last week, she attended the city council and board of education meetings to try to spread the word of her cause. Officials were impressed with efforts and said they would do what they can.
Rodriguez said she must raise the $6,000 by May 1. So far, she has raised $400 and the Halls That Inspire, a nonprofit group where she provides service has pledged a $1,000 donation, she said.
"We're not just going on this trip to have fun,'' she said. "We're doing this to learn.''
Anyone with questions about the program can contact People to People at 800-669-7882, or go to peopletopeople.com.
Folks wishing to make a pledge in Rodriguez’ name may log on to payment.peopletopeople.com, then enter her last name and her delegate ID #, which is 10135170. If there are other questions, call 862-218-5430.