Jun 23, 2017

Summer Intern Series: Michelle Rodriguez, Partnerships

This summer, we’re excited to welcome five interns to Global Headquarters! Hailing from four GlobeMed chapters from across the country, these interns will serve as integral parts of GlobeMed’s work as we expand our technology platforms, grow our communications and partnerships strategy, and gear up for another year of chapter engagement and support.

Our third summer intern at Global Headquarters is Michelle Rodriguez, who will be working with the Partnerships team.

Michelle has participated in, not one but, two Grassroots Onsite Work (GROW) internships. Recently, she interned with GlobeMed at Emory’s partner, MAP Foundation, in Chiang Mai, Thailand where she also participated in the first ever Partner Forum in Asia. Michelle is a proud advocate for human rights and health equity, and enjoys educating her peers and people in her community about the importance of social justice.

Michelle Rodriguez

Chapter: GlobeMed at Emory University
Major: Double major in International Studies and East Asian Studies
Year: Junior/Class of 2019
Hometown: Puntarenas, Costa Rica

What’s your story?
I was born in San Jose, Costa Rica. I moved to the U.S. when I was 7 years old after my parents divorced. In the beginning, American culture was so different and learning English was very difficult, so I felt very lonely. Since I couldn’t make friends because of the language barrier, books were my companions. They were in English, but trying to read them was like solving a puzzle, and it was fun. Even though my family became American citizens, I still watched my mother struggle to give her children the American Dream, something I’ll always be eternally grateful for. I grew up in south Georgia and being Latina was not easy. I faced discrimination and minor bullying in schools. I didn’t feel like I could fit in. I wanted to act more American and be accepted by the other kids, but I also didn’t want to erase my hispanic heritage. My mother always spoke to me and my siblings in Spanish, so that we wouldn’t forget our native language.

A turning point in my life was when my mother and I were at a store shopping one day. She was speaking to me in Spanish when all of a sudden, an American woman started yelling, “Don’t speak Spanish here! This is America. You have to speak English!” I was still very young at that time, but I felt so angry. How dare she, a woman who can only speak one language, talk to my mother like that? That made me realize that Hispanics will always face discrimination, but no one has the right to make us feel ashamed of who we are. Empowering the voices of marginalized communities and embracing cultural heritage are very important values for me.

As I became older, I grew more aware of the social injustices and health disparities faced in our country as well as globally. I became passionate about working towards change and advocating for issues within our communities. I surround myself with positive and supportive people. These are some of the reasons why I was drawn to GlobeMed when I came to Emory University.

How has GlobeMed fit into that picture up to this point? What roles have you played in your chapter?
I joined GlobeMed at Emory during my freshman year. That same year I became a GROW intern and had the opportunity during the summer to visit our partner, the Migrant Assistance Program (MAP) Foundation, in Chiang Mai, Thailand. As a GROW intern, I was truly able to understand GlobeMed’s vision and how real our partnership was. Being there and forming connections with the organization’s staff gave me even more motivation to advocate for our partner and share my experiences with my chapter.

This past year, my sophomore year, I became GROW Coordinator. I was excited about being able to work onsite with our partner again, but I was also worried about the pressure and responsibilities that came with the role. It was an amazing experience leading my GROW team earlier this summer, and I feel confident that our partnership is strong. This upcoming year, I will be Co-Director of Communications. Currently, I am a summer intern at GlobeMed HQ. Literally, my whole summer is dedicated to GlobeMed.

What sparked your interest in this summer internship and what you’ll be doing here at the Global Headquarters?
This summer, I am the partnerships intern and will be working with the partnerships team mainly on post-GROW logistics. GlobeMed is a big part of my life and has positively influenced me, so I decided to give it a shot and apply to be an intern at HQ. I wanted to learn about the logistical aspects of the organization and be able to see it from multiple angles, not just at the chapter level. I was so excited to get the internship and honestly feel so blessed.

What are you studying? Do you know what you’d like to do in the future, and if your studies will relate?
I’m double majoring in International Studies and East Asian Studies. After graduation, I want to go to law school and study international law. In the future, I want to be like Amal Clooney and advocate and fight for human rights.

Words: Michelle Rodriguez. Picture: Balungile Belz

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