Graduating Redbird Daisy Rodriguez wants to do her part to make the business world more accessible for all people, regardless of their background. Much of that drive came directly from the leadership roles she has held at Illinois State University.

“I would love to be the equity, diversity, and inclusion person somewhere in a big company,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez is set to graduate this May with a degree in business administration and a minor in international business. She has long been interested in a career in business, and the Melrose Park native decided to study at Illinois State in part because her older sister studied here.

“I felt comfortable here. It didn’t immediately feel like home, but it was somewhere I could make a home.”

Rodriguez found her footing at Illinois State through her extensive campus involvement. One of her earliest roles was taking a job as an Admissions ambassador. She would later be promoted to student manager, a role she has held ever since. As a student manager, she assigns tasks to Admissions ambassadors and assists Admissions staff with processing incoming applications.

“When I was in high school, I started working as soon as I was able. I always knew I wanted to have some form of campus job,” she said.

Rodriguez calls the Association for Latinx American Students (ALAS) her home. She joined the organization as a freshman and is now the vice president of the registered student organization (RSO). Through ALAS, she partnered with University College to provide translation services for new Spanish-speaking Redbirds and their families during Preview.

“We had a program my sophomore year where we talked about the inequality in the education system for Latinos,” she said. “There was a lot of talk from the general assembly members that were there attending the program about how they felt about the Preview and Orientation experience.”

ALAS members reported feeling uncomfortable when separated from their parents, who often are primarily Spanish speakers, and general discomfort with the prominent use of English by guides and in print materials. Rodriguez, who speaks Spanish as a first language, saw an opportunity to act for the next generation of Redbirds like herself.

“I used my connections through the Admissions Office, and I went over to my supervisor, Branden Delk, and I asked him if he could put me in contact with someone in the Preview and Orientation office so I could relay the feedback I got during that ALAS program,” she said.

After setting up a meeting with ALAS executive board members, a member of the Asian American Pacific Coalition, and Preview leadership, the idea to launch a language inclusion project was born.

“A lot of what I do is translate to current materials they have and giving my feedback as to how things could be done differently to support those non-English speaking families, guests, and students,” she said.

Rodriguez also served as a diversity and inclusion coordinator for this year’s Business Week. She facilitated a movie talk event that was held last fall. During this event, participants analyzed how humor presented in sitcoms changed with the times.

EDI ISU wordmark with words equity, diversity, and inclusion is YOU, Illinois State University

A second event held during Business Week proper brought Keiana Barrett, director of diversity and strategic development at Sterling Bay, to campus. She spoke to the assembled crowd about the importance of equity, diversity, and inclusion as well as her experience in the field. Additionally, Rodriguez works with the leaders of other Business Week events to help them incorporate diversity and inclusion into their offerings.

These leadership roles led to her being selected as the winner of the 2022 Billy Quigley Leader in Action Award.

“I am not one to always share and talk about my accomplishments and all the work that I have done for my community on campus, but it feels great to be recognized for my efforts and achievements,” she said. “I truly feel like I owe this award to my parents who taught me at a young age what it means to have morals, values, and treat others with kindness. I am who I am today because of them and what they have taught me reflects a lot on the work that I have done.”

Rodriguez has simple advice for the new Redbirds who will be joining Illinois State this fall: Get involved.

“Your involvement is really fulfilling to your college experience,” she said. “If you are a first-generation student, a Latino student, or whatever it may be, give yourself time to process the fact you have gone away from home and are in a new environment. But also start thinking about the ways you are going to leave your legacy behind on campus.”

This story is one of a series of profiles on Redbirds who are graduating this May. For more information about how Illinois State is celebrating commencement this semester, visit the Graduation Services website.