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Yesenia Rodriguez

Tempe, AZ – Yesenia Rodriguez likes wolves so much that she plans to spend her career trying to help restore the declining populations of the iconic animals.

Yesenia, a 22-year-old senior at Arizona State University (ASU), is planning on working as a wolf biologist in Washington State after she graduates with her bachelor’s degree in Biology, “I’ve always found them really interesting and they actually are incredible animals – although dangerous – they are a valuable species. Research shows that an entire ecosystem can benefit when wolves are reintroduced into an area.”

Yesenia is hopeful that her research and work will ultimately lead to more wolves living in the wild, “They’re kind of being killed off a lot because they’re known as dangerous animals, so I think that if I could do something to help them – that would be great.”

Yesenia adds that Washington State offers some of the best graduate school opportunities to advance as a wolf biologist. Ultimately, she would like to work for a state or federal agency such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Yesenia was born and raised in Yuma, Arizona where she graduated from Cibola High School and went on to attend, and graduate from Arizona Western College before transferring to ASU.

While attending school in Yuma, Yesenia earned a scholarship from College Success Arizona which has helped her limit student debt, “I’ve still had to take out loans, but I’ve had to take out so much less than other students I’ve heard about. I’m very grateful because I know it’s really helped and I’m not sure that I would have been able to complete my education without this scholarship.”

The scholarship provides up to six-thousand dollars per year for educational expenses and specialized mentoring services in the form of a “Success Adviser” (mentor). Yesenia says her Success Adviser, Matt Sotelo, has been very helpful, “Matt was always super great. He always wanted to meet and he was always very easygoing, helpful, and was always there for us. If I had a question, I could always email him or send a text message, and he would always get back to me as soon as he could.”

Yesenia has some words of encouragement for Middle and high school students considering college:

“I found that attending community college was extraordinarily helpful. If you’re not quite ready for a university or not financially stable, community college is the way to go. Also, it can be very hard, but it’s also very possible and you can definitely do it, and there are a lot of people that are there to help you out.”

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