Determination Defined: The Carmen Rodriguez Story

Behind every remarkable woman is a unique life story that has yet to be told. Though her knees may buckle in the face of extreme hardship, she develops strength to rise up and continue excelling. Carmen Rodriguez embodies this mantra. She uses her story as a propellant in her quest to change the world through civic service. By day, she's a hard working Human Resources professional at BET Networks. By night, she's Super-Mom managing single parenthood and never-ending career and personal conquests.

Underneath it all, Rodriguez has overcome many challenges in order to achieve success. As a child, she endured immense trauma as a result of her father being murdered in her native El Salvador -- he was shot twice and the body was discovered in a nearby well.

Rodriguez's struggles did not end there. At eight-years-old, Rodriguez and her older sisters crossed the U.S.-Mexican border illegally: "[It] took me and my sisters 24 days to cross the border. We spent a few days in Guatemala and most of the time in Mexico. I was so young that I didn't fully understand the risk we were taking. At that time, 'crossing the border' meant reuniting with my mother; it also meant having a normal life."

Instead of allowing these events to break her willpower, she started a new and better life for herself in the United States. She eventually attained legal citizenship and decided to use this new life to make a positive impact on others. Rodriguez began to write as an outlet of self-expression in high school; she co-launched a news medium at Mount Vernon High School called "El Punto Latino", (the Latino Point of View).

Her ambition wouldn't allow her to be content with an advanced high school diploma alone. Defying the odds, Rodriguez had the determination to complete her bachelor's in Communication, with a Business minor from George Mason University, while working full-time at BET Networks and mothering a young son. As a first generation college student in her family, Rodriguez desired to use her higher education experience to serve as a voice for the Latino community and achieve economic mobility.

Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of Gurpreet K. Sandhu Location: BET Networks Washington, D.C.

Rodriguez continues to use that voice by serving on nonprofit boards and as a public speaker at George Mason University and elementary/high schools in Fairfax County and Prince William County.

Mrs. Melvy Jensen taught Rodriguez in high school and has watched her become the woman she is today. She asserts, "Carmen is an amazing person. When I first met her she was in the 10th grade and was already working with her mother at a local restaurant where her mother worked. She kept her grades in good academic standing. For a young 10th grader, she was very dedicated and determined with incredible insight toward a bright and promising future. She is so motivated to always do the best on anything she undertakes. She is a very compassionate and caring person, always willing to volunteer for a good cause."

Her high school endeavors were just the beginning of a longstanding commitment to do good. For the past four years, she has served as a liaison to many BET Networks employee engagement and community outreach initiatives including College Bound and Everybody Wins! D.C.. These programs largely assist low-income and at-risk youth through mentorship in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Presently, she is a project manager overseeing various technical and logistical functions for the production and administrative freelancers at BET Networks.

The lesson to learn from the "Carmen Rodriguez Story" is that through hard work and dedication you can achieve your personal goals. Though life may hand you obstacles, you can turn them into opportunities. Rodriguez implores you to "Dream big and trust that anything is possible. Have faith in yourself, set goals, take action and never allow fear to stop you from following through with your dreams."