April Rodriguez: TRIO SSS Student Spotlight

Psychology major transferring to the U of M to earn a bachelor’s degree

April Rodriguez, 21, will be graduating from Inver Hills Community College in August 2022. April is earning her Psychology Transfer Pathway Associate of Arts (A.A.) and has plans to transfer to the University of Minnesota to continue her psychology studies and complete a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.).

“I have been fascinated by psychology since I first learned about what it was at 11 years old,” she said. “I was at my elementary school career fair when a psychologist came to talk about their career. I was intrigued from that moment, and I went home that day to tell my parents I was going to be a psychologist. My passion for psychology has only grown as I’ve learned more about it.”

April is focusing her long-range aspirations on building a career where she is helping people.

“I am especially interested in people with personality disorders and addictions,” she said. “I am also interested in victims of abuse. I am not exactly sure what I will be doing or what setting I will be working in, but I aim to help people who are struggling, and I will be happy as long as I am doing that.”

TRIO SSS success story

While attending Inver Hills, April participated Phi Theta Kappa and TRIO Student Support Services. She credits TRIO SSS for much of her success in college.

April Rodriguez

“TRIO has been an amazing support system for me throughout my time at Inver Hills from the beginning,” she said. “I signed up for TRIO as soon as I found out about it, and it was easily one of the best decisions I’ve made in college so far.”

April reported that she met her academic adviser, Alicia Atwater, through her participation in TRIO SSS.

“I also learned about the counselors at Inver Hills because of TRIO, which led me to my school counselor, Erik Berquist,” she said. “I would often reach out to my advisor and counselor for questions about classes, career exploration, and to seek support during personal challenging times. They were always there for me and pushed me in the right direction, so I am thankful that TRIO led me to them.”

Work, volunteerism, and music

While attending Inver Hills, April worked at a Walmart Deli. She started her job at Walmart eight months ago.

“I work four days a week and usually do the evening/closing shift,” she said. “I enjoy working here because I’ve made great relationships with coworkers, and I get to socialize with customers as well. I enjoy helping customers, and being the only bilingual worker at the deli, I often assist the Spanish speaking customers who come in.”

April has also been volunteering at Tubman, an organization that provides many different services for people, including housing assistance, childcare, and mental health support. At Tubman, she works as a KIT facilitator.

African Drum Ensemble performing at Inver Hills 2022 Commencement

Kids in Transition (KIT) is a group dedicated to helping children who are going through any and all kinds of life transitions such as parents getting divorced, moving, loss of a loved one, and more,” she said. “I meet with these kids and one co-facilitator over Zoom once a week to support them in whatever they want to talk about, offering a safe space for them to open up about how they feel.”

April added that she and her co-facilitator follow a KIT curriculum that provides some structure to these meetings, but as facilitators they make sure the meetings are focused on the kids’ unique needs.

“It’s totally okay if the kids want to derail from the curriculum to talk about what’s on their minds,” she explained. “Some topics we discuss are empathy, grief, communication skills, and managing difficult emotions like anger and sadness. I love volunteering here because it gives me a taste of what my career might be like, helping others and establishing appropriate professional boundaries while forming meaningful connections. I’ve gained a lot of insight doing this, and I’m impressed at the maturity of the kids I work with.”

April took part in the African Drum Ensemble led by Inver Hills music instructor, Andrew Martin. She performed with Andrew and another student musician at the Inver Hills 2022 Commencement Ceremony. The African Drum Ensemble focuses on African hand and stick drumming, singing, and dancing. Students can take the course for credit or for fun.

“It was a blast,” April said. “I wish I could take it again! Alicia actually is the one who told me about the class in the first place so I’m really thankful she encouraged me to take it.”

Alicia Atwater: TRIO SSS academic advisor perspective

Alicia and April
April and I met during the height of the pandemic. I was so worried about meeting and connecting with students virtually, just in general. For a year and a half, we met solely online every other week and we talked, laughed, and cried together.
When I met her in-person, I hugged her so tight because it was as if I was meeting a long-lost friend, not a student I had just met in real life for the first time. As a student, she is dedicated, highly motivated, and takes responsibility for her own academics. As a person, her abundance of care for others radiates to all who have the privilege of meeting her. I am so thankful she was my advisee and I look forward to all of her future accomplishments, of which there will be many.
Alicia Atwater—she/her/hers
TRIO SSS Academic Advisor
Inver Hills Community College
Catima Wilson, April, and Alicia Atwater

More about April…

Originally from Farmington, Minnesota, April graduated from Farmington High School, Class of 2019. April’s mom, Pattie, is from Chiapas, Mexico. Her dad, Eddie, was raised in Los Angeles, California, and both his parents are from Mexico.

“Both of my parents have taught me a lot about our Mexican culture, and I learned Spanish and English at the same time,” April said. “I grew up listening to my parents play all genres of Mexican music and listening to artists like Selena, Juan Gabriel, and Luis Miguel. My mom has always cooked Mexican dishes, some of my favorite being tamales, carne asada, and all kinds of tacos. I am thankful for all the things my parents taught me, and I couldn’t be prouder of our culture.”

April’s little sister, Helen, just turned 13. “Helen is growing so fast, and I am lucky to witness all her progress,” April said. “She is a ray of sunshine, always smiling and waving to strangers. Being a big sister can be a big responsibility, and I am glad I get to be that for her.”

April with her mom and Ronnie

April’s boyfriend, Ronnie, has also been a huge part of her life for almost four years now. “Ronnie is very supportive of me and encourages me to work for my dreams while not forgetting to take care of myself,” April related. “He is close with my family, and we have all made many memories together.”

In her free time, April enjoys reading fiction novels and self-help books. One of her favorite novels is The Kite Runner. She also loves doing yoga as an enjoyable way to stay regularly active. She has played piano since she was 10 years old, and music continues to be therapeutic for her.

“I do all kinds of yoga practices because there are so many different ones that offer a wide range of benefits like stress relief, flexibility, and strength,” April said. “I really just do it because it makes me feel good. My taste in music is kind of all over the place so I can’t choose a favorite genre. Some artists I am really into right now are Bad Bunny, The Marias, and Silk Sonic.”

April resides with her family in Farmington, Minnesota.

April Rodriguez gallery

More about TRIO Student Support Services

Empowering students to succeed.

Come find your community of support! TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) provides academic advising and guidance in the transfer process, plus social and cultural events. If you are planning to graduate from Inver Hills and transfer to earn a bachelor’s degree, TRIO SSS could be a great fit for you.


Why join TRIO SSS?

Make connections.

With TRIO, you’ll get personalized advising and so much more! Find friends and comradery, plus social and cultural events. TRIO offers workshops on study skills, financial literacy, time management and many other topics. Plus, take advantage of career planning, major exploration, college transfer planning, and campus visits to four-year institutions.



April Rodriguez Q & A

April Rodriguez
What was your favorite TRIO activity and why?

I just like how welcoming everyone in TRIO is. If you walk into their office, you will immediately feel like it is a safe space. There is always someone there to help and even the mentors who are students are very mature and supportive.

What advice would you give students thinking about participating in TRIO?

I would absolutely encourage everyone to join TRIO. If you are hesitant because you think it will be an added responsibility to your already busy schedule, do not worry because TRIO is the opposite of that. Rather than pressuring you into participating more than you are comfortable with, TRIO will introduce you to people who care for you and will support you.

You can participate as much or as little as you are comfortable with as long as you keep in touch with your advisor, which you will want to do anyway because they are all awesome. They have experienced a lot and know pretty much everything there is to know about college. They are also supportive when it comes to general life struggles or if you just want to chat.

What did you like best about attending Inver Hills?

Every professor I had at Inver Hills was passionate about what they were teaching. I loved this because it encouraged me as a student to want to learn more. I had always heard about intimidating professors who don’t really care for you, which may be the case at other colleges, but I was relieved that I didn’t have this experience at Inver Hills.

Whether I was learning about psychology, music, or statistics, each professor made their class very interesting. I was also grateful that each professor had a great attitude about offering support even outside of class when I was struggling.

Three words that describe you as a college student:

Why did you choose psychology as your career path?

I think I’ve felt misunderstood often in my life, which is not an uncommon experience. Something about helping people, and making them feel understood, really draws my attention. I am excited to offer my support to people who need it. I am hopeful that with the education I am receiving and my empathetic nature, I will be able to make positive changes in people’s lives in the future.

What person has influenced your life the most and why?

Many people have impacted my life tremendously, but the influence my mom has had on me is unlike anything else. She is from Mexico and came to the U.S. almost 30 years ago to build a better life for me. She has worked hard and has been an inspiration to me growing up. Because of her, I have learned many life lessons that I will never forget.

Where do you hope to find yourself in 20 years?

I do not have a clear vision of the future and I try not to worry about it too much. When I imagine the future, I just hope to feel happy and healthy. I hope to be doing something I love and to be surrounded by people who care about me. I hope to feel more confident in myself and learn to fully love myself as well.

One word that best describes your experience at Inver Hills:


April Rodriguez 12 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: Dancing
  2. Place you would most like to visit: Japan
  3. Most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Travel to Mexico
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Get a Ph.D. in psychology and pay off all student debt 2) Buy a house in Mexico by the beach
    3) Donate to charities that support homeless people, minorities, and mentally/physically ill people
  5. Best book or movie you’ve read or seen lately: Everything Everywhere All at Once (movie)
  6. Time period you would explore if you could time travel: I would go to the dinosaur era to see what they really looked like and what they did on Earth
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: When I am an old lady, I want to look back on my life and feel proud and at peace with what I accomplished; hopefully, I will have come to peace with myself as a person, and if I had a child, I hope I showed them unconditional love and support. Overall, I want to leave a positive impact on as many people as possible so that I can feel like I served my purpose.
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: Flamingo
  9. Dream occupation: If not a psychologist, then a food taster ?
  10. Person you would most like to meet: Harry Styles
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Cooking
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: People tend to listen to respond, or to argue, or to convince someone of something. We all have our own perspectives and biases and those can sometimes interfere with our listening skills. There is something that can be learned from everyone you come across, and I think it is important to show each person equal respect and spend more time truly listening to people.
Learn more about TRIO SSS at Inver Hills by contacting:

TRIO Student Support Services
Inver Hills Community College
College Center Room 255

Learn more about Psychology at Inver Hills by contacting:

Inver Hills Community College
Virtual Visit

More about Psychology at Inver Hills…

Psychology coursework at Inver Hills makes perfect sense if you plan on continuing your college education to earn a more advanced degree. Taking psychology courses is a great way to build a versatile foundation for other learning goals.

Our psychology faculty believe that deepening your knowledge through the discipline of psychology will enhance your personal life while helping you grow professionally with a passion for civic engagement and social responsibility.

Why Study Psychology at Inver Hills?

Study what matters most.
Psychology is one of the most influential and resourceful applied sciences in the modern world. As a psychology student, you will work to better appreciate human diversity, becoming more empathetic and less judgmental along the way.

Deepen your self-awareness.
Investigating the multifold facets of human behavior will give you the tools to better manage your daily life. You’ll upgrade your interactions with others, improve your learning and memory performance, get a handle on stress, and learn to recognize the initial indicators of serious mental and emotional illness.

Psychology bridges all gaps.
Your psychology coursework will complement learning in other academic programs. For starters, fine arts, business, education, social justice, healthcare, biology, and communication majors can all benefit from the insights into human nature they can gain from their psychology studies. After all, people are the most significant moving parts in virtually every discipline.

Do your research on research.
Psychologists are master researchers. As a student in our Psychology Transfer Pathway A.A. program, you will make your bones doing research projects, which means you’ll strengthen your critical-thinking and analytical power while expanding your knowledge base—all transferable improvements to your skill set.

Don’t worry, there’s a scientific method to our madness.
As a psychology major you will learn how to state your question, propose your theory, and then construct a rigorous lab or field experiment to grill your hypothesis. Point being, you’ll learn how to take your findings and new understanding to create evidence-based strategies that can tackle problems and make a real difference in people’s lives.

Take things in stages.
Developmental psychology focuses on the typical stages of a person’s lifespan. When you study these stages in depth, noting progress and changes in terms of thoughts, emotions, functions, challenges, and behavior, you begin to empathize with the confusion and difficulties people face during each obligatory phase of their lives. That empathy is the very reason you chose psychology in the first place.

Specialties are our specialty.
Need to find your ideal niche? Lucky for you, psychology is a field with nearly more specialties than humankind has varieties of apples. You’ve got clinical, cognitive, counseling, engineering, experimental, forensic, geriatric, industrial, school, sports, and more. Find out which one resonates the most with you.

Psychology today, career success tomorrow.
Our Transfer Pathway A.A. gives you the credits you need to transfer with junior-year status to a psychology baccalaureate program at a Minnesota State university. Your education at Inver Hills will propel you toward your academic future and career calling.

Psychology Career Paths

Explore the human heart with clear vision.

Psychologists are trained to identify and analyze human behavior across the spectrum. They work with children and adults of all ages and walks of life to help them solve problems related to mental well-being and emotional stability.

Psychologists are also keenly involved in the process of examining behavioral modes that influence the lives of healthy human beings.


Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists

Treat emotional and mental problems of children, families, or other groups.


This is a very high-wage career that pays well above the statewide median of $23.00/hour


Median: $42.69/hour
High: $50.64/hour

Seven-county Twin Cities metro

Median: $43.76/hour
High: $50.74/hour


In Minnesota, there are 2,590 workers employed in this small career, which is in very high demand and seeing high growth compared to other careers. Growth rate in the U.S. is 14.7 percent.

2,385 new Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists to meet market demand between 2020-2030. This includes the demand due to replacement (workers leaving the occupation or retiring) as well as growth.

Minnesota State CAREERwise Education

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