HACKETTSTOWN, N.J. -- Centenary College alumna Angela Rodriquez never dreamed that volunteering for the organization Big Brothers Big Sisters would earn her national recognition and the opportunity to meet the President ofthe United States.
Rodriquez, a 1990 graduate from Centenary, signed up with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Union and Hudson Counties nine years ago because she wanted to make a difference in young peoples' lives. As an only child, she wanted an experience that was similar to being a true big sister.
"I felt that I wanted to make a difference in someone's life," says Rodriquez. "The sense of fulfillment that I receive from the work that I have done with this organization is like no other."
Rodriquez's little sister, Sabriyah Jones, will be attending college in the fall. As a result, Rodriquez will now serve as a Big Sister to Sabriyah's younger sister, Zahiriah.
There are 5,000 mentors in the state of New Jersey and 250,000 nationally, according to Carlos Lejnieks, President of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Union and Hudson Counties. As Big Sister of the Year, Rodriquez recently delivered the keynote address at the Big Brothers Big Sisters Conference in Atlanta. She was interviewed for ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, met Senator Frank Lautenberg and visited the Oval Office and met with President Obama.
"We are so proud of Angela Rodriquez," says Dr. Barbara-Jayne Lewthwaite, Centenary president. "She remains actively involved with her alma mater. She is on the Alumni Association Executive Board and was instrumental in starting a BRAG Chapter (Black Retail Action Group) on campus recently and is Homecoming Co-chair for Class of 1990. She is a leader in every sense of the word who graduated from an institution that values community service."
Centenary was the first college in the State of New Jersey to mandate community service as a graduation requirement. Some of Centenary's community service projects include "Community Plunge," a day-long volunteer opportunity held at multiple locations for first-year students; an initiative to help the homeless in New York City called "Midnight Run"; and a yearly Disaster Relief Project where students from Centenary and Drew University travel to New Orleans to help rebuild areas that have suffered devastation from Hurricanes Rita, Gustav and Katrina.
ABOUT CENTENARY COLLEGE
Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary College is an independent, coeducational liberal arts and career studies college distinguished by an accomplished faculty, small class size and diverse student body. Centenary is the only baccalaureate and master's degree granting institution in northwest New Jersey.
Centenary College's main campus is located in Hackettstown, N.J., with its equestrian facility in Washington Township (Morris County). The College's Centenary Adult and Professional Studies (CAPS) program offers accelerated degree completion programs.