A 2016 graduate of Zeeland East High School, Rodrigo attends Hope College in Holland, Michigan.

He knew his parents had come to the United States because they wanted a good education for their children, but it wasn’t until 6th grade that Rodrigo says he himself began to realize and believe in the importance of education.

Rodrigo credits, along with his parents, many of his teachers over the years who shared with him their love of education. Teachers he can still name! We name them here so they will know how their support has rippled forth in this young student: Mr. Guy, Ms. Purnell, Ms. Caesar, Mr. Fuller, Mr. Molir.

The tribute he pays these teachers is that he now also wants to become a teacher, helping other students the way they helped and encouraged him.

In high school Rodrigo was a part of the Student Senate and tutored Kindergarten and Special Education Students. Though he was never a part of Upward Bound or LAUP as many of the other Promise students were, Rodrigo reached out for other resources available to him. One of those was his College Advisor, Melanie Barts of Zeeland East.

College Advisors are counselors at the high school level who encourage students to continue their education after high school. She helped Rodrigo prepare for his ACT’s, fill out applications, and participate in various college tours.

Rodrigo will also be receiving other Community Foundation of Holland/Zeeland scholarships — the Centennial Coatings Scholarship and the Tom and Susan DenHerder Education Scholarship.

Melanie had this to say about Rodrigo:

“I have had the pleasure of knowing Rodrigo for the past two years as his college adviser. He is far and away one of the most driven, hardworking students at Zeeland East. He is attentive and respectful, eager to learn and always asking questions, and willing to go the extra mile in and outside of the classroom.”

Rodrigo’s Career Goals?

  • As we’ve said — Rodrigo hopes to become a teacher and more specifically an art teacher one day. To that end he’ll be pursuing an Education major and a Spanish minor at Hope.

What did receiving the Holland/Zeeland Promise scholarship mean to Rodrigo?

“To graduate without debt is a dream for me. I have an opportunity to make my family proud. And I have an opportunity to grow as a person, and grow professionally.”

And finally — what advice does Rodrigo have for other students who dream of college but face financial or other hurdles?

“Hard work and dedication are most important. Apply for scholarships! And do the work required at school.”

To learn more about the Holland/Zeeland Promise Scholarship, visit