In this interview, Hannelore Banks Rodriguez details her path to and through a career in higher education. She begins by sharing some of her parent’s backgrounds including their immigration from the Philippines to Fargo, North Dakota, her father’s pursuit of a Ph.D., and her mother’s desire for a medical technician degree. She also explains some of the difficulties she encountered in her early education as a Filipino student growing up in her hometown of in West Philadelphia. Rodriguez goes on to recall her reasons for attending Brown University as well as her first experiences on campus, noting her connection to the Pembroke campus and its history.
Rodriguez explains that during her sophomore year, her parents faced serious financial difficulty and declared bankruptcy. This, coupled with no financial support from Brown, required her to leave school after only a year and a half in order to work to support her sisters’ education. She identifies this moment as the point when she realized she wanted a career in higher education so that she could influence university policies. She remarks that her mother’s unlikely lottery winning allowed her to return to Brown where she would continue her education and work on the Annual Fund in Alumni Relations.
Rodriguez does not discuss her undergraduate experience in too much depth, but more heavily discusses her graduate experience at Brown, adjunct teaching at the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College, and pursuing a Ph.D. in art history. She describes her various jobs in college administration as well as the skills she developed along the way that allowed her to serve as assistant to Brown University President Ruth Simmons. Rodriguez also details the work she did for Simmons, students’ opinions of her, and her empathetic personality.
She concludes the interview by explaining how she received her position as Senior Assistant to the President, and currently Senior Advisor for Strategy and Planning, at Dominican University of California, specifically describing her, and the school’s, participation in the 2015 presidential debates.
Mary Vascellaro’s home, San Francisco, California