The world is her oyster.
Fontbonne Hall Academy senior Mara Rodriguez has big plans to study international affairs once she graduates in June, but didnt always know where her path would take her.
Born to a Puerto Rican mom and an Irish dad, Rodriguez grew up in Marine Park. In her freshman year, she was introduced to the Liberty LEADS program, sponsored by Goldman Sachs, through her moms boss. The program aims to give inner-city kids the opportunity to go to college.
Coming from Marine Park, I didnt want to travel to the Upper West Side on weekends [to attend the program], she recalled, adding that her mom, who works for Goldman Sachs, encouraged her to go.
Rodriguez didnt know the 15 other kids in the program with her and stayed in her shell for the first year. But during the summer program at Fordham University she was, as happy as could be.
It completely changed my life, she said, noting that she attends an after-school class once a week, as well as a Saturday academy where SAT and college essay writing prep takes place.
Through Liberty LEADS, Rodriguez has also performed in a movie, filmed a play, tutored integrated algebra and geometry, and traveled to Chile with other high school students from around the world.
Over the summer, Rodriguez studied business finance economics at Columbia University for three weeks, studied at Poly Prep Day School for three weeks and then interned for three weeks at Goldman Sachs.
I am happiest at the Liberty LEADS suite [where she attends classes]. Its a happy environment, Rodriguez said. Its educational, but not as stressed. Its easier.
Looking forward, Rodriguez has many colleges in mind, including Boston College, Northwestern University, Fordham University, ProvidenceCollege and Tulane University.
I want to major in international affairs, Rodriguez said. I want to work in Washington, D.C. and be a news analyst, [focusing] on politics in different countries.
Rodriguez is also a science lab assistant at Fontbonne and a member of the SANCUS club (which serves as the school welcoming committee) and was a Junior Varsity cheerleader.