Tarrant County College Trinity River wants to share stories from our students. Dezirae Rodriguez became president of the Trinity River Student Government Association in part due to a TCC employee who identified her skills and saw potential where Dezirae did not. We hope this student’s story reminds faculty and staff to strive to make success within reach with each and every student; a small push of encouragement can go a long way in shaping the people of our future.
- High School Alma Mater: Mansfield Legacy High School
- TCC Major: Sign Language Interpreting
- Future Plans: bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Speech Pathology/Communication Disorders
- TCC Graduation Date: Spring 2021
Q: Which fictional character do you resonate with?
A: Amy Santiago from Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Q: What motto do you live by?
A: The first time I saw Talladega Nights, I knew this was fitting for me: “If you’re not first, you’re last.” And that’s totally me, it always has been; I was the kid who had soccer practice at 6 am but would wake up their parents two hours early to go to the field and practice before anyone else.
Q: What first made you realize that you were capable of being a leader?
A: When I was young, I was offered a spot as the captain of my soccer team, which I fully embraced. Captain of a kid’s soccer team seems like a silly thing to us now, but back then, as a young kid, it was a big deal.
Q: Were you involved in any other leadership roles prior to SGA?
A: Although I definitely peaked in the leadership department in college, I was the captain of my childhood and high school soccer teams, the president of my school’s National Honors Society and I also worked my way up the ranks in my high school’s JROTC program.
Q: What made you choose SGA?
A: I credit it to one unknown woman in particular. My first year at TCC, I worked in the president’s suites and while I was working, I always saw the same woman at the same time of day, always carrying a car seat around with her. One day, I asked why she carried that with her, and she told me she was a single mother with a son that she had to take with her to class, but they didn’t have a car, so she would have to Uber to school and work and home, and bring the car seat with her. I saw just how much she had to handle, and how I didn’t have nearly as many responsibilities as she did and asked her how TCC could help her. So, I took her request to the supervisors that I could reach. One in particular asked why I wasn’t a part of SGA, where I could tackle matters like this and help the student body, like the woman I met at my desk job, and that’s when I knew I could have a platform to really make a difference here.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge/reward you’ve experienced so far after being a student leader?
A: The biggest challenge was also kind of my biggest reward. I’ve always been the type to go up to bat for anyone in conflict, but I never held myself to the same standard. So, if someone hurt me or treated me poorly, I would never say anything, and that changed when I became the president of SGA. The biggest challenge was dealing with conflict in a respectful and calm manner, but the reward came directly from the challenge, because now I can stand up for myself in a mature way.
Q: Best advice for faculty and staff?
A: Get more involved! Some faculty and staff really go the extra mile to try to be there for the students that go to TCC, and that makes lasting relationships and memories, which I think is something that every employee of TCC should try to do.
Q: What legacy would you like to leave behind at TCC?
A: Break the stereotype of being a community college student. We all know what reputation community college has, but TCC is a great example of how unrealistic those stereotypes are. Get involved, care about the work you do, make relationships with the people around you and leave your own mark.
Q: What do you think are some useful personality traits for people in SGA to have?
A: Humility and humor. Humility because it’s important to remember that seats on SGA do not put you above other students or grant you more privilege. Humor because SGA can be serious at times and keeping things lighthearted is a great way for people to loosen up. Both of those qualities make you more relatable and approachable, which I think is important to be in SGA.
Q: What advice do you have for students that want to get into SGA but don’t think they’re a leader?
A: As my former soccer coach once told me, “I can take a player who has heart and make them into an incredible athlete, but I can’t work with a player with only skill and no heart.” That applies to SGA too. If you have the skills to be a leader but don’t actually care, that means nothing. If you want it and you’re willing to learn, we can do it together. You don’t have to be the most outspoken person ever; you just have to care.
Q: What’s the silliest thing people have said about you as a first impression?
A: Apparently, I’m super intimidating, which I don’t see or think about myself at all.
Q: What’s something people don’t know about you?
A: I’m an extreme couponer. The best deal I ever got was $600+ groceries for $200.
Q: What three people would you invite to your fantasy dinner party?
A: Sojourner Truth, Chinua Achebe and Malala Yousafzai. They’re three women that are just unapologetically themselves and stand up for themselves and for what they believe in, which is something I’ve struggled with in the past. These women remind me that I can change that.
Q: How are you working on your leadership skills during quarantine?
A: During quarantine, I have focused on my academics and applied for the Sign Language Interpreting Program. After my acceptance, I was encouraged to get organized and maintain a planner. I hosted a workshop for those interested in using Google Calendar to capitalize on the free resources.
Q: What kind of advice do you have to give to students who may be struggling with productivity?
A: We are all creatures of habit and because of that, it is really important to maintain a routine. Using a calendar and designating time for academics, as well as time for yourself, is really helpful to being productive.
Q: What is the most useful tip you’ve learned as a new online student?
A: The most useful tip has been definitely maintaining a routine. It has really helped me to feel structure in this time of uncertainty.