Mandy Rodrigues

Current Pathways Scholars, listen up!

This 18-year-old freshman at Rutgers University — Newark has some free advice for you: “Apply for scholarships and apply early.”

Mandy, who was admitted to Pathways in her sophomore year on the recommendation of her English teacher, says Pathways teachers often delivered that message, but she didn’t heed it. Instead, Mandy says, she waited until the proverbial last minute. Mandy is a National Merit Scholar and nearly all of her college expenses are being paid for, but she acknowledges that jumping on it earlier would’ve made a big difference in her senior year of high school.

“It would’ve saved me a lot of stress and would’ve made the college application process much easier,” Mandy says. “In Pathways we talked about how important it was to apply for scholarships. It probably was laziness why I didn’t apply earlier, for more scholarships. But I’ve texted younger Pathways Scholars at my school in group chats and told them about the urgency of applying.”

Like millions of other college students, Mandy will begin her studies in distance learning mode. While she says she’ll miss the opportunity to make new connections and meet new people in person, Mandy has her sights on majoring in medical imaging sciences. She’s especially interested in sonography — the procedure of using sound waves to create images of human organs. Mandy also developed an interest in medicine because she has a special needs family member she’s close to who requires nurse assistance. One day, Mandy says, she sees herself in the field of pediatrics.

“Pathways helped with college readiness,” she says. “In junior year, Pathways teachers had us create common app accounts. It helped a lot of kids in seeing which colleges they wanted to apply for.”

Pathways also helped Mandy develop the confidence to chase her professional dreams.

“A Pathways teacher helped me edit and perfect my personal statement on my college application,” Mandy says. “I wrote mine about overcoming my social anxiety, which used to be very bad when I was younger. My Pathways teacher helped me connect my experience with performing arts with my interest in the medical field. In the medical field, you have to deal with other people — you’re not on your own. If I were to go into medical filed, I’d need to learn to communicate better.”