Name: Danilo Rodriguez
Dreamer Cohort: Rohatyn Class, 1986
Which grade were you in?: Grade 7
What did you think about “I Have A Dream” – New York when you were in school? Initially I was unaware of what the program was, it became evident as the first year progressed, and I found myself in awe of the opportunity that presented itself.
What High School did you attend, and what year did you graduate? Brooklyn Tech, 1992
Did you go to college/secondary school? If so, where and what did you study? Yes, Columbia University for Undergrad and Columbia Business School for Graduate school
Did you graduate college (2-year, 4-year, or vocational school)? If so, what school and what did you study? Columbia University, Electrical Engineering and Mathematics/ Columbia Business School, MBA
What are you doing now? I’ve just returned to the United States after working six years in the Middle East (United Arab Emirates). I’ve come back with my family and am currently settling back in to the city.
How would you explain the “I Have A Dream” program to someone who had never heard of it? It’s a program that provides a path to a college education to youth that would otherwise not have one.
How did being a Dreamer affect you? It’s the biggest opportunity I received in my life, it was my way out of a life that didn’t have many positive outcomes. It was an opportunity I knew I needed to take full advantage of as it would be my only shot at the education I deserved. It set me on the path to who I am and where I find myself today.
What were some of your favorite memories about being a Dreamer? Mainly the time spent with the Rohatyns, my sponsors. It gave me a glimpse into a different part of the city, and it showed me that New York, and the rest of the world for that matter, wasn’t just my current environment, there was something more to explore, and different people to interact with.
Would you be where you are today without “I Have A Dream” – New York? Why or why not? As I mentioned, I Have A Dream set me on a completely new and different path, one that I could not imagine given my circumstances at the time. It opened up opportunities that I would otherwise not pursue for it would be, as I imagined it, out of my grasp. I think the most important lesson I received from the program was not to limit myself or my thinking; to think big, and to be able to set big goals. Even though they may seem out of reach, there’s always a way to reach them.
What does your family think of “I Have A Dream” – New York? My family understands that I was involved in a program that helped me through college, but I don’t think they fully grasp the impact that it has had in my life. Somehow I would like for them to know how important this program was for me.
If you are a Dreamer Alum who would like to share your story for the blog, please contact Thierry Cazeau at firstname.lastname@example.org .