“The poor culture is so rich.”
Sergio, Pomona College

Sergio Rodriguez

Hometown: Santa Ana, CA

Pomona College

Sergio Rodriguez is thankful for the opportunities he has received in the United States. He was born in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. in 2002 with his mother to rejoin his father, who had already been working here to provide for family back home. Settling in Santa Ana, California, his parents hoped that the options for education and employment in this country would allow their children to escape the cycle of poverty and violence in Mexico.

However, they did not anticipate how difficult it would be to build a life from scratch in a foreign country with a foreign language. Sergio’s family struggled, and soon after their arrival in the U.S., his mother became the sole provider for Sergio and his three siblings, at times working three jobs to support them.

Sergio believes the challenges he faced growing up and those he continues to face today have taught him to find creative solutions to challenges and always stay optimistic. “The poor culture is so rich,” says Sergio.

He was not always optimistic about his education. Tuition fees at top-tier colleges daunted him, and he was disappointed when the counselor at his public high school suggested a local community college. His dream was to attend a four-year institution that could prepare him for law school or a career in international relations. 

Looking for another way, Sergio applied to the QuestBridge National College Match. On December 1, 2011, he learned that he had been accepted into Pomona College with a full four-year scholarship.

In his sophomore year, Sergio led Pomona’s QuestBridge Scholars Network chapter – one of the nation’s largest chapters. He created a strong community for students like him and, in the process, sought to broaden his own understanding of different cultures and experiences. His mission was to “provide a safe space where people can rejoice in their struggles, whether they be financial, social, or individual.”

Now in his senior year, Sergio recently returned from studying abroad and is working on his thesis and post-graduation plans. While still undecided about what he wants to pursue in his graduate studies, he has explored law through the UCLA Law Fellows Program, public policy at Princeton’s Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Program, and higher education access as a Senior Interviewer at Pomona College Office of Admissions. He will also be traveling to Mexico City to conduct research for his thesis looking at the transit patterns of Central American refugees.

Sergio continues to be an executive member of Pomona’s QuestBridge Scholars Network chapter. His goal is to forge a strong career that will allow him to help his mother financially, as the first in his family to graduate from college in the U.S.

First interviewed in 2013; updated in 2015.