Jessica Plaza Rodríguez, graduating with Bachelor of Arts in Spanish with an emphasis in Hispanic Literature and a Bachelor of Science in Family Studies and Human Development, is a recipient of the university’s Robie Gold Medal.
The award will be presented Friday during the University of Arizona’s 159th Commencement.
Wendell T. Robie of the class of 1917 and Inez Benzie Robie of the class of 1916 established the Robie Gold Medal Award. Qualifications for this award include personal integrity, initiative, cooperativeness, enthusiasm, humility, well-rounded interests, active participation in student affairs, service to the University, willingness to give more than required, and love of God and country.
Jessica is originally from Mexico City. She moved to Tucson, Arizona five years ago to reunite with her family and find better opportunities. Jessica understands the importance of building an environment that promotes equity for people of color and a place where the community is built through leadership, cultural enrichment, and communication.
As a newly arrived immigrant to the United States, Jessica had to learn a new language and understand a new culture in a short amount of time. Jessica is a first-generation student who had to face different barriers to higher education. During her time at the University of Arizona, she had the opportunity of working for the Immigrant Student Resource Center. Jessica supported students with immigrant backgrounds to navigate the university. One of her roles was developing communications strategies for the ISRC to ensure that immigrant students and their families at the university, and in the local community were aware of resources that helped them navigate college. Jessica is now working as a full-time employee at the YWCA as a Program Coordinator. She helps to facilitate programs and provides resources for the Latinx community. Jessica is also currently working as a Research Assistant for a project called AZ Health TxT, with the Public Health Department at the University of Arizona. In this position, Jessica works as a translator where her work consists of delivering this information via text messages to communities in rural areas.
During her academic journey, Jessica had the opportunity to intern at Colibrí Center for Human Rights. In this organization, Jessica supported an online campaign called ¿Cuántos Más?. The objective of this campaign was to raise funds for DNA kits to identify and honor those who have lost their life on the Mexico-USA border.
Jessica has been honored with several awards, including the Wildcat Distinction Award, Dean's List with Distinction, Ruth Reed Cowden Scholarship, Collegiate License Plate award, and FSC Council scholarship.
After graduating from the University of Arizona, Jessica is interested in attending Law School and becoming an Immigration attorney.