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Seizing Opportunities: First-gen DSST: Cole student shares her journey to Pepperdine University

Emely Rodriguez-Rodriguez (DSST: Cole ‘24) is headed to Pepperdine University this fall with plans to major in Nursing and minor in Political Science. But this accomplishment was not an easy path for her.

As a first-generation college student, Emely attributes her success to the support of her family and the DSST: Cole community.

“Since sixth grade, Cole has helped me overcome obstacles and prepared me for my future in college,” Rodriguez-Rodriguez said. 

She was first inspired to pursue nursing through her mom. 

“When I was a kid, my mom worked two Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) jobs,” said Rodriguez-Rodriguez. “She would sometimes struggle to find a babysitter, so I would go to work with her. I would help her with patients. I was that curious kid that would follow her around and want to do everything she was doing.”

As Emely reflected on her middle school years, she remembered a particular rough patch in seventh grade that her Dean, Mr. Carter, helped her through by encouraging the DSST core value of responsibility.


As time went on, Emely took advantage of opportunities that DSST provided her, including a healthcare pathways program at the Community College of Denver, an EMT program, and AP classes. Specifically, Dr. Tronchin’s AP Government class helped Emely explore the intersection of healthcare and government. 

“Dr. T allowed me to understand that politics can help others advocate for their needs,” said Rodriguez-Rodriguez. 

Through the support of Ms. Rincon, her dedicated college counselor at DSST: Cole, Emely applied to 14 colleges and universities and was accepted to most of them. 

“These are schools that I never saw myself going to,” she said. “Cole is what introduced me to them and got me thinking about them.”

Emely is excited to spend Senior Signing Day with her classmates who have been together for the last 12 years in the Cole community.

“It’s something we only get to do once in our lives, and being able to have that memory with my friends is going to be the best.”