Ariana Rodriguez: A voice for the community
Ariana Rodriguez was the first student at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi to bring sex education awareness to campus. She founded Islander Feminists, an organization that created a safe space to talk about gender issues, feminism, and activism. Under her leadership, the Islander Feminists hosted numerous sex education events and she got to work with PERIOD Corpus Christi to get free period products on campus. Her commitment to providing a reliable resource for sex education goes beyond her campus. Thanks to her dedication, many people now have reliable access to menstrual products as well as educational information.
Growing up in Belt Bolt, Texas, Ariana was always surrounded by people who looked like her, and that came from the same background. It was not until she first attended college that she realized that her low-income community lacked proper sex education. The absence of resources regarding a safe and healthy lifestyle in her community encouraged Ariana to make a change and become an activist.
Ariana is currently the Social Media and Content Manager at the Sister District Project, an organization that works to get Democrats elected into state legislatures. Sisters District Project resembles her values and prosperities. She has seen how state officials create laws that are harmful to communities of color, and this is why she believes in the Sister District Project. When politicians care about rural communities like the one Ariana grew up, they are safer and healthier. Ariana is proud to work for an organization that cares about giving back to communities in need.
Ariana’s exposure to politics began at a very young age because her parents always enforced the importance of voting and they motivated her to speak up on issues that mattered the most to her. Unlike many traditional Hispanic households, it was normal for Ariana to see women around her as leaders, this strengthened her abilities to become one herself from a very young age.
The women in her life have always given her the support and guidance that she has needed to get to where she is now. Her grandmother, Concepcion Rodriguez is her greatest resource for support and guidance. She remembers how her grandma was barred from many of the opportunities she now has. For example, her grandma was never able to access higher education, something Ariana was easily able to do. When Ariana does not feel good enough, she remembers how much her grandma sacrificed for her and how she must continue to fight for the girls after her. Her motivation to continue prospering in her field comes from young girls that resemble her. She hopes to help young girls all around the world and provide them with the tools and confidence that she did not have while growing up.
Lack of sex education and reproductive rights is a major health and lifestyle issue, and Ariana is actively working to bring light to these issues. If people do not have reliable information about the health of their bodies, then they are also not aware of the resources available to them. Ariana believes that sex education is more than just using a condom or access to birth control. Sex education goes way beyond these two points: “it is consent, it’s tackling rape culture, and most importantly it is so much more than just having sex.”
After Ariana received her Master's in public administration, she learned how the government works and how inefficient it is for many communities. Her involvement and passion have encouraged her to want to become a representative of her community. Whether it’s running for office or working for a nonprofit, she wants to be able to create programs that help and educate people in need.