From Air Force to a Force to be Reckoned With: Meet Angela Rodriguez

While Angela Rodriguez served in the Air Force from 1995 to 1998, little did she know she would leave with a traumatic brain injury that would impact her learning and retention abilities, an injury so severe it would take the span of several years for her to overcome fully.

Not one to let obstacles deter her from her objectives, when Rodriguez began to recover, she made a promise to herself.

“Now that I can learn again, I don't want to stop. Ever.”

Currently, Rodriguez is an undergraduate student in the College of Business at A&M-Commerce, pursuing her Business Administration degree. She started in the Fall of 2021 after leaving the military and transitioning into civilian life by attending a local community college. Homing in on her training to research and pay attention to detail, Angela's decision to enroll at A&M-Commerce was meticulously calculated.

“Of the business colleges I researched, A&M-Commerce's College of Business has the highest student-rated professors when compared with other nearby universities, as well as the highest completion rates,” Rodriguez said. “The COB has the lowest student debt ratios to income size within the university. I came here because I wanted to be financially free to pursue my personal achievement goals, public service and globe-trotting on my vacations.”

On track to graduate in May 2023, Angela has already accepted a position with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as a Financial Institution Specialist in the Division of Risk Management at the Dallas field office. Yet to keep true to her promise to never stop learning, she has already set her sights on a new target, the MBA for Veterans program.

Upon learning that there was a veteran-centric MBA program that was condensed to one year, she jumped at the chance.

“Affordable, timely and I get to spend time learning with fellow veterans who can understand what we have collectively been through? I thought ‘Sign me up!'” Rodriguez said.

Transitioning from military to civilian life has been a significant transformation for Angela. But her transformation at the College of Business has given her perspective and will continue to impact her for the remainder of her life.

“I have almost always been in a constructed chain of command since the age of 14,” Rodriguez said. “I went from JROTC and Civil Air Patrol in high school to active duty to the Pentagon, and eventually as a Corrections Officer in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.”

The perspective she had was one that was rank and file, military-oriented and very singular. However, while at the College of Business, Angela learned how to construct multiple perspectives, both from a business perspective and from a personal one.

“While I understood the concepts of diversity, equity and inclusion, and performed them in a perfunctory manner, I don't think I knew how to truly value them,” Rodriguez said. “The COB has taught me more than just to analyze financial statements or find common ground, but to embrace all the beautiful differences between us.”

Rodriguez spent her 18th birthday in basic training, her 19th birthday in Kuwait, participated in Operation Desert Strike, saw combat operations, and continues to prove that she is a force to be reckoned with even outside her uniform. Speaking about her personal experience at the College of Business to fellow veterans, she said, “A degree from the College of Business is applicable towards just about any personal goal you may set, so focus the discipline you have acquired from the military on your education.”

Continuing to encourage her fellow transitioning veterans, she continued, “The College of Business provides you with the tools you need to thrive in the civilian world, not just cope. The effort you put in will be returned exponentially. You will not be alone on your journey, as the COB has excellent veterans' resources on campus, and your fellow veterans will also be there to support you. I don't know of a university that has a better veteran support system than A&M-Commerce's College of Business.”