Before the pandemic, Stephanie Rodriguez was a homebody who liked nothing more than to curl up on the couch with a good book in a quiet house. One might, therefore, assume quarantine conditions suited her. But everyone has their limits. We speak with the Oden Institute’s Graduate Program Administrator about her life, family and the factors that have kept one of our most prized staff members at the Institute for 15 years.
When Stephanie Rodriguez joined the Oden Institute in March 2008, she wasn’t actively looking for a job. “I had taken time off from work to raise my two children, who were then in elementary school.” Despite having more than enough to do minding two very young children, she still considers it “providence” that she received a call out of the blue from a friend at the Institute telling her about an opportunity for a temporary position as Graduate Coordinator, while her predecessor went on an extended leave. “The position sounded like a natural fit for my background and interests so I applied without hesitation,” she said.
After a few months, the position transitioned into a permanent assignment and, fast forward 15 years and Stephanie remains in a role she describes as “perfectly suited to her abilities and disposition.”
As Graduate Program Administrator for an Institute comprised of staff and students from myriad disciplines across UT campus, Stephanie Rodriguez has her work cut out. But she has become an indispensable team member - thanks in part to her encyclopedic memory for names and details, and her laidback attitude.
“With a background in educational psychology and counseling, I had always hoped to have a career doing work that would be in the service of others,” she said.
At the Oden Institute, she found an environment which allowed her to achieve this goal, with work that directly benefits students and also has an impact on the broader community.
“In addition to enjoying the work that I do, I appreciate being surrounded by the talented and professional people that the Institute attracts. My colleagues are dedicated and hard-working.