Some people can think the life of a teenager is boring or meaningless, but here we have Zulema Rodriguez, the exception to this generalized opinion: a 17 year-old who does not waste her time rotting in front of a computer screen, Rodriguez makes the most of her youth and is active, doing whatever she can to help those who surround her.
In a recent interview, the true Rodriguez was revealed, as she spoke about her life story and aspirations for the future. This budding pediatrician has a passion for helping people, fulfilling the meaning of her Arabic originating name meaning “peace.” Rodriguez has a drive for making a change in society and is willing to do what is necessary in order to achieve her dreams. Although she is mainly interested in high-energy activities, she also enjoys a good book when she has the time. A teenager is what she is, but not who she is, she says: it does not define her.
In her young life, Rodriguez has already overcome some challenges, which threatened her daily life and interests, such as playing sports.
Sports has great meaning to her, but because of a saddening injury, she was unable to participate in her schools sports team – specifically lacrosse. On a cold winter morning, as snowflakes dropped from the sky, Rodriguez recalls she was about to step outside. It would be one of the greatest yet most destructive steps of her life, however, as she slipped on icy step and fell, severely injuring two disks in her lower back and ruining her dream to join a sports team in high school.
“I couldn’t play sports, couldn’t sit for too long, couldn’t stand for too long,” she said.
The pain she experienced was terrible and prevented her from taking advantage of some opportunities, but being the person she is, she said, nothing could stand in her way.
Two of her closest friends put her on a pedestal when describing what she means to them.
“She’s the strongest person I’ve ever met,” said Anaiesel Javier when asked about how Rodriguez healt with her back injury. “But I knew she would get better and could handle it.”
That was not her only challenge. Moving homes four times a year seems like something a military family would be used to, but Rodriguez had to endure this feat inthe eight grade grade, as her family struggles to stay afloat this unstable economic environment.
Without notice, her family had to drop everything and her life took a complete 180 turn during her final year of middle school. Transferring schools four times, meeting different people but then having to leave them, would take a toll on anyone, but Rodriguez went through it all just trying to do what she could to remain the funny, intelligent person she is.
“I went to Mexico, I moved, changed schools,” all in one year, she said, speaking about her transition from place to place. “I just left, it was depressing.” This was a tough time for her, as she was not fully aware of what was happening nor able to control anything, yet she said she made it without turning to the wrong side of things and this is a reason she is regarded so highly by her friends.
“I look up to her,” said her friend Jennifer Zhanay, ”all the struggles she’s gone through, she’s still trying to keep on going with her life and not let other things around her put her down”
Her friend described her as “unparalleled.” “There’s no one else like her in this world,” said Anaiesel Javier.
Today, Rodriguez dreams of becoming a pediatrician and hopes that the strength and determination she possesses, and the support system she has, will guide her to the path of success. Since she was little, she had a connection with children, so it was only natural for her to choose this profession.
“I took care of my sister and brother when I was little”, she said about her experience with children. “They used to call me mom.”
“I like helping people in any way I can,” she added.
Her closest friends also support her dream and believe that becoming a pediatrician would be ideal for her. Speaking about her relationship with children, they said, “she has more patience with children” and “she’s really attached to little kids.”
Rodriguez is not simply a 17 year-old: there is much more to her than meets the eye. She is a dreamer, and aspires to do great things no matter what trials and tribulations she faces. With such good friends as hers, a big family, and her personality, she is confident she will make a name for herself in the future.: Zulema Rodriguez, pediatrician.