Tucson, AZ – Naiby Rodriguez, the daughter of migrant farm workers, is working on her lifelong dream of becoming a doctor and returning to serve her hometown of Yuma, Arizona.
“My ultimate goal is to become a doctor and make an impact in my community of Yuma. Since I was born and raised there, I understand the people and I understand the culture, and I understand the needs of my community. I believe that I can help be a role model for school children and others. They can have someone to look up to who was in their very same shoes, and sitting in the same classrooms. I feel that as a physician I will be able to help a lot of people, but additionally it will give me a platform to do so much more.”
Naiby, age 22, was born in Phoenix but raised in Yuma where she graduated from Cibola High School. She went on to graduate from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science in Physiology. Naiby is now enrolled in the Pre-Medical Admissions Pathway (P-MAP) at the U of A, which she says will likely help her gain admission into the university’s College of Medicine, “It’s for those students who have had a tough road throughout their undergrad, and also students who have lived in rural communities and border towns. Basically, it’s a path to medical school for students whose pre-med GPA, and other academic numbers were maybe not high enough, but who also have a lot of passion and drive to become doctors.”
Meanwhile, Naiby says much of her passion and drive comes from her family, “My parents are immigrant field workers and they’ve worked in the fields all of their life. So they always taught my siblings and I to really be humble, but most importantly to help others. So, I definitely have that in me – that drive to help others. Once I reached high school I realized that medicine is something that I want to pursue, and that it would be my way of helping others. I was able to go to Peru and do some medical volunteering, and do similar things through clubs here at the U of A, which I think really solidified my wanting to pursue this career. It has been my passion, to want to be a doctor that has helped get me through college.”
Naiby is among the many hardworking students who have earned scholarships from College Success Arizona, which provides up to six-thousand dollars per year for educational expenses. Students also receive specialized mentoring services from a team of highly skilled success advisers, such as Matt Sotelo, who is Naiby’s success adviser, “Matt has been there for me emotionally and he’s been there as a friend, a mentor, an adviser – you name it and he’s there. He’s so willing to help out, whether it’s academically, or if it’s something emotional, or something family-related, he’s there whenever you want to call or talk to him. Also, having an adviser is so helpful in understanding the college process, and experience, when you have parents who didn’t go to college.”
Naiby adds that the financial support from the scholarship has also been a big help, “It’s helped out immensely with books and tuition, which keeps going up every single year. When there’s money left over I use it for housing, so it definitely goes a long way beyond the academics of college.”
Naiby has some advice for middle and high school students considering college, “I have spoken to students, who like me, are the children of migrant farm workers, and I encourage them to pursue their dreams, because all things are possible through education. I also encourage them to try and not be afraid. I know in my life, when I lost the fear of not being good enough, or not being smart enough, of not being the perfect student – that’s when I started to succeed and see a difference in my life academically. For me, the best part of college has been realizing that I do belong here, but also realizing that university is hard and being able to get a grasp of it. There is so much growth that comes from realizing that “I can do it,” and get through the hardest classes, and the social aspect of college. I’ve also met some amazing people, really incredible individuals that can make you a better person.”