Integrative studies and honors student Alicia Rodriguez has been selected as this year’s winner of the Jon Sultan Writing Award. The competitive award recognizes one first year, integrative studies student who submits a portfolio of writing samples demonstrating both critical thinking and versatility in his or her writing. Rodriguez is concentrating in social justice and human rights, and hopes to use her communication skills as an advocate to uplift the voices of marginalized members of society.
While in high school, Rodriguez volunteered with a variety of different service organizations. Although she enjoyed being involved, Rodriguez said, “I was always helping people but knew that more was needed to make a lasting impact. This type of volunteerism solves symptoms but doesn’t address the root causes of inequality and systems of oppression.”
Rodriguez joined Amnesty International and began to gain a broader understanding of different human rights issues, and later she expanded her engagement with social activist groups once she arrived at Mason.
Rodriguez credits her parents and brother for their support and guidance, helping her form a strong work ethic and commitment to her studies and interest in social justice. She said, “As a person with a Puerto Rican heritage, much of my interest [in marginalized populations] comes from my own people, who struggled through a history of colonialism in Puerto Rico as well as the diaspora within the United States.”
This summer, she will be expanding her knowledge about labor rights through an internship with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. Rodriguez will be a part of the team within the Making a Change at Walmart Campaign, working to improve conditions and working practices. Rodriguez also plans to assist School of Integrative Studies Professor Cher Chen with research in the near future as well, and knows it will add another dimension to her writing.
Along with writing, Rodriquez enjoys art and often works on projects that intertwine the written word with different forms of art such as painting, sketching and photography.
Rodriguez said, “Combining writing with another form of art is important. It opens all sorts of communicative channels.”
Kelly Dunne, interim SIS executive director said, “Alicia is a talented student who clearly puts her passion to work. She gives 100 percent in everything she takes on and we congratulate her for her accomplishment.”
June 15, 2016