Laurel Ridge graduate Mady Rodriguez is making her community a better place, both as a professional and a volunteer. She has multiple jobs and a full volunteer roster.
Rodriguez, who graduated from Laurel Ridge in 2011 with her associate degree in liberal arts, is a case manager for Grafton’s Infant and Toddler Connection of Shenandoah Valley, which provides in-home services to children from birth to age 3 who have developmental delays or handicapping conditions.
“This line of work is really why I started going to Laurel Ridge,” Rodriguez said.
She was hired in 1998. The position required a bachelor’s degree, but Rodriguez was hired because she speaks Spanish, and it was understood she would earn her degree.
“I would take one class here, one class another semester,” Rodriguez said.
Simultaneously, she was hired to teach ESL classes to adults. At the time, the program was operated by Frederick County Public Schools, but is now an Laurel Ridge program. Rodriguez is now the ESL coordinator for Laurel Ridge’s adult education program.
For a time, she also worked as an adjunct professor at Laurel Ridge teaching ESL and student development classes to international students.
But, that’s not all, Rodriguez is a medical social worker at Winchester Medical Center, currently on a per-diem basis.
Outside of work, besides being a mom of two, Rodriguez gives back to her community. She is president of the Winchester Education Foundation, vice president of Arte Libre of Virginia, on the board of the I’m Just Me Movement, and serves on the committees of Family Day and Celebración Winchester.
Additionally, this is the second year Rodriguez and a friend have prepared book bags and school supplies to give to underserved students in the area.
While at Laurel Ridge, Rodriguez had some favorite professors, Philosophy Professor Harold McMullen and Math Professor Evan Humbert.
“Mostly, I loved my ethics classes with Professor Harold McMullen,” she said. “He was a very difficult professor, very dry, but he was so full of knowledge. I had always wanted to be a psychologist. But, the line of work I went into, I really found was my calling, more of that human services, that social work component of it.”
After Laurel Ridge, Rodriguez attended Old Dominion University online and earned her bachelor’s degree in human services in 2013. She attained her master’s degree in human services from Walden University in 2015.
Rodriguez is interested in possibly attaining a second master’s degree, this time to become a licensed clinical social worker, which would allow her to practice on her own and give diagnoses.
“This area lacks mental health access and testing in our local Spanish-speaking community,” Rodriguez said. “Long-term, I’d like to be a licensed clinical social worker, especially for the younger population.”
She said she would recommend Laurel Ridge to others.
“Laurel Ridge was definitely a positive experience for me,” she said. “It was the stepping stone I needed.”
Are you inspired by Rodriguez’s story? Would you like to help other students like her? Please consider making a gift to the Laurel Ridge Educational Foundation at laurelridge.edu/donate.