by: JONATHAN BROOKSHIRE/Feature Editor
Being part of a college is more than just pursuing higher education, but also being able to meet incredible people from all over the world from many different cultures and backgrounds.
Maria Marina Rodriguez, 35, is a sophomore at South Plains College who is studying music education and music performance. She traveled all the way from Venezuela with the goal to improve her English, but the biggest reason to make the journey was to start a family.
“I married my husband in Venezuela four years ago,” Rodriguez explained.
At the time, Nelson Rodriguez, her husband, was finishing his master’s degree in financial planning at Texas Tech University.
“Since he is an American citizen, I came along with him to Lubbock to start our family,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez came to America with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, but decided to further her study in a career that she loves.
“My husband encouraged me to study the career that I love the most,” explained Rodriguez. “That is when I found music education.”
Rodriguez has devoted her study to music. She says that music has been a passion of hers since as far back as she can remember. She loves to play the violin and practices every morning at 7:45. Along with her love of music, she also loves helping others. She wants to reach out and help people with the “beautiful tool of music,” but not being able to speak English fluently puts Maria in a difficult spot.
“The language barrier is a very important reason why a foreigner is overwhelmed in a different country,” Rodriguez explained. “Not being able to speak, write, or think in English is very frustrating in order to find a job, socialize, or getting a degree.”
Rodriguez says that this is also another reason why she went back to school. She wants to be an inspiration for those who have excuses and to prove to others that anything is possible if you are dedicated.
To further prove her point, Rodriguez wants to transfer to Texas Tech University to get her bachelor’s degree in music education. However, she won’t be stopping there either.
“After I get my degree in music education, I want to pursue a master’s and a PhD in music therapy,” Rodriguez said. “My husband supports me 100 percent in any major, and that makes me happy.”
Nelson plays a big role in Maria’s life. Starting a family with him is one of the main reasons why Rodriguez moved to America. She has been living in Texas for about four years. However, most of her life and experiences come from her home and time with her family and friends in Venezuela.
“The most beautiful memory that I have from my country is Christmas,” Rodriguez said. “Christmas in South America is celebrated in a very festive way.”
Unlike the Christmas that we are accustomed to in the United States, the national holiday is celebrated a bit differently in Venezuela.
“We have our own Christmas carols, which are “Villancicos,” “Parrandas,” and “Gaitas,” Rodriguez said. “They begin in August and last all the way through December.”
As Christmas day draws near in December, family and friends share food and spend time together, participating in religious activities throughout the month.
Rodriguez says that she misses Venezuela and her family, but feels that South Plains College has become her second home.
“In 2011, Texas welcomed me,” Rodriguez said. “Since then, I decided to make every day count in this great country of opportunities.”
Rodriguez says she wants to thank all her professors, colleagues, and SPC for being an important factor to a foreigner in the process of becoming part of a multicultural country.