Friday, April 22, 2022

Doctor of Pharmacy student Jose Rodriguez's dad was one of eight children of Mexican immigrants to Chicago. He has spent his working life as a Ford mechanic. Now, Rodriguez has charted a new path for his family: a college student.

"My dad has this one quote that always stuck with me my entire life," Rodriguez said. "He said, 'You can work hard for six, eight, 10 years of your life in college, and then you can enjoy the next 40 or 50. Or you could be like me. And I don't want you to be like me."

Jose Rodriguez
Doctor of Pharmacy Student Jose Rodriguez

When Rodriguez first began pharmacy school, his dad's Ford union went on strike for a few months. "I was thinking, am I going to have to drop out already? I didn't get to start!" he said. "I started digging in, and I even took a history class here that taught about the history of unions and how workers formed together. My dad said that at times like these we're in, it's really important that all the workers get together and stand their ground."

"That really stuck with me."

Similarly, he added, "Right now, more than ever, pharmacists need to unite and get back to worrying about number one, which is high-quality patient care, rather than how many scripts we could fill in a day. Pharmacists don't have a union, but it's still important to have a strong collective voice."

For this reason, Rodriguez is heavily involved in association work and through it, improving the pharmacy field for them. It is something he would like to continue after graduation. "The Iowa Pharmacy Association and other groups take time out of their days to make sure everyone that's practicing pharmacy in the state of Iowa enjoys what they do every day."

He has also volunteered to interpret for Spanish speakers in the community and their health care providers, including the UI Mobile Clinic. Through the student organization, healthcare providers from a variety of disciplines provide free health screening, prevention, education, and basic health services to underserved and uninsured populations throughout Iowa.

"Many times, it is our communities that suffer the most, and they also get the least amount of care," Rodriguez said.

"Having that bilingual and pharmacy background, I get to help a lot of underprivileged communities that need care the most."

One of the many reasons Rodriguez chose Iowa for his undergraduate studies and pharmacy school was its “close-knit community vibes.”

Originally from the South Side of Chicago, Rodriguez’s parents moved the family to the suburbs (Channahon, Illinois) to pursue a better education for Rodriguez and his older sister. Growing up, he loved Channahon, and Iowa City’s close-knit feel reminds him of home.

“Despite having around 40,000 students on campus, Iowa still felt like I was back home, especially with the way everyone is so genuine. I am considered a first-generation student and not knowing the pressures of college, I wanted to feel comfortable wherever I would end up. The campus and downtown area are so closely connected it’s easy to study with friends and then walk down the road and get lunch with them! I can say with full confidence that Iowa is my home away from home.”

Another determining factor that led Rodriguez to Iowa for pharmacy school was a College dean, who helped him decide on pharmacy as his healthcare field of choice. He credits the College’s supportive and "extremely approachable" faculty, preceptors and alumni for his positive experiences. He also enjoys being close to the UI Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) and having automatic connections there.

“What’s nice about getting an education at Iowa is that our faculty and pharmacists work across the street from the College at UIHC. They want to be with you. They want to talk to you, hear what you have to say, and what questions you have.”

“We have alumni doing amazing things around the country and even around the world, and they will always tell you it is because of the weight that an Iowa Pharmacy degree carries.”