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Meet our Alum!
Since its inception, SOH has sought to balance the scales of privilege by recognizing that when potential meets opportunity, dreams come to life. No one exemplifies that better than Mabel Rodriguez: SOH alum and Director of Placement, High School Programs and Alumni Relations.
What brought you to SOH?
I was part of the first graduating class. My third-grade teacher, Mrs. Papson at P.S.7, recommended me and I remembered interviewing with Julia Baez-Veliz. I was nervous about starting, but even in moments when I was scared, there were so many people who had my back, especially my mentors in the beginning.
Was there a particular teacher or administrator who stands out for you?
Mrs. Baez. She knew all the kids and still remembers me and my family. She even wrote my college recommendation. Anna-Mae Duane, my 7th grade language arts teacher, and Anne Gilheany, who supervised me when I was a mentor. All of these women were strong role models, and also so compassionate and full of love.
What would life have been like had you not gone to SOH?
I’m sure very different. I know SOH changed the trajectory of my life, from everlasting friendships to serendipitous college connections. I applied to Duke University because of a teacher in my high school seeking me out to ask questions about SOH, since her children were applying. I was clueless about the college process at the time, but she connected me with our head college advisor, who recommended I apply to Duke (it was her son’s alma mater). Being a part of SOH created so many opportunities I otherwise would not have had. That is what I hope we do for our students: open the door so they can seize opportunities they otherwise may not have.
What has changed the most about the program since you were a student?
The high school program has grown a lot. We now have college trips and the Mentor Fellowship Program that brings in speakers and SOH alum to talk with our students about everything from financial aid to interviewing etiquette. Markell has also been leading us into bringing SOH into the 21st century by improving our technology and efficiency and taking steps to modernize our science curriculum.
Where do you see the biggest areas of growth for SOH over the next 25 years?
Keeping people connected post-graduation by offering more networking opportunities and by tracking alumni better, including students who have been placed. I’d also love to see us develop an even stronger parent-to-parent connection to help prepare new parents for what to expect from the program.
What is the biggest joy of your job?
Wow, there are so many. I really love seeing the growth of our graduates. Seeing the students I taught in 5thgrade working with us as mentors in high school and going off to college. Our SOH families, who are always so grateful and willing to help. I also enjoy working with Markell because he has a great sense of humor, but he also is one of us. Really, all of my coworkers are amazing. They relate well with the parents and recognize that we are here to help people. I am lucky to work in a place where my colleagues share a similar vision and mission with me.
What would your adult self tell your young self about taking a leap of faith with SOH?
When I was in the 7th and 8th grade, coming to the program on Saturdays was hard. It’s a big commitment! Older Mabel would say to younger Mabel, “Hang in there—I promise you it’s worth it.”