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A scholar, athlete and volunteer

© St. Petersburg Times
published May 24, 2002

Teenage tycoon
Taking steps in the right direction
Pennies and pictures for patients
Every Saturday, 18-year-old Rachelle Rodriguez rises earlier than most roosters, dons her uniform, smiles without thinking and serves bacon, eggs and hash browns to Village Inn patrons.

What makes the Jefferson High grad different from any other working teen?

She ranks among Tampa's brightest scholars. With a 5.42 grade point average and enough letters and titles after her name to put a socialite to shame, Rodriguez proves this adage: If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person.

[Times photo: Stefanie Boyar]
Rachelle Rogriguez graduates from Jefferson High School as salutatorian. She is also captain of the cheerleading squad, editor of the school newspaper, on the math team and track team and a member of the National Honor Society.

At Jefferson, Rachelle captained the cheerleading squad. She edited the school newspaper. She competed as the math team's calculus whiz and the track team's pole-vaulting pro. She belonged to the National Honor Society, the Anchors Service Club, the Florida Public Service Association and Mu Alpha Theta, Jefferson's math club.

Amid the activities, accolades, academics and her part-time job, Rodriguez managed to donate time as a gymnastics instructor at Robinson's School of Gymnastics.

How does she do it?

"Make sure you know what you want," she says. "Before I do anything, I ask myself why I am doing it, whether or not it fits with my goals. What am I going to get out of this? There has to be a reason for what I do, or I don't do it."

Rodriguez attributes her indefatigable yet pragmatic attitude to her parents, Raul Rodriguez, a professional in the glass and metal industry, and Donna Rodriguez, a registered nurse.

"They have always pushed me to do well and supported my choices," she says.

Rachelle is salutatorian for Jefferson High School's Class of 2002. In principal Dan Riveiro's mind, no one could better represent the school.

"Rachelle is the total student," he says. "She has it all."

Maybe it's no wonder, then, that Rachelle has her pick of scholarships, as she heads toward college, where she plans to prepare for a career in forensic pathology.

City Times: The rest of the stories

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  • Teenage tycoon
  • Bonding, codger style
  • Adding gilt to Guilder
  • Cooking up wisdom
  • Life comes full circle, back where it began
  • Warranty protects against problems
  • Homes morph with age, lives
  • A scholar, athlete and volunteer
  • Taking steps in the right direction
  • The stars come out all day
  • Datebook
  • Beads, beads, beads
  • Prominent lawyer, public official
  • Get your java at the drive-though
  • Pennies and pictures for patients
  • Struggling Giancola's abruptly shuts down
  • Plant High graduates show their generosity
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