June 1, 2023

From AZ to the Ivy League: How Education Forward Arizona’s College Knowing & Going initiative helped prepare Rodrigo for college

From Yuma’s Cibola High to NY’s Columbia University: Watch Rodrigo Guizar Jr.’s graduation story.

A bright future begins with a solid education and that mindset is driving Rodrigo Guizar, Jr.

Rodrigo graduated from Cibola High School in Yuma, Ariz. on May 26, and will travel more than 2,500 miles for an incredible learning opportunity this fall – as an admitted college student at none other than Columbia University in New York City.

As a child, Rodrigo spent nearly every weekend across the border visiting his grandparents. He quickly learned that the infrastructure is not the same. That realization inspired him to pursue a career in civil engineering.

“I want to be a part of the solution in communities around the world,” said Rodrigo.

Columbia University’s Engineers Without Borders will give him that opportunity. He plans to specialize in hydrology and focus on creating reliable and sustainable water infrastructure to solve the impending water crisis that plagues many communities, including his mother’s native Mexican village, as well as communities in Arizona, like his hometown of Yuma.

From a young age, Rodrigo recognized that to become a first-generation high school graduate and college attendee, he would face hurdles and needed the right resources to put his educational aspirations within reach.

With the help of College Knowing & Going, a program led by Education Forward Arizona and funded by Helios Education Foundation, Rodrigo overcame those hurdles.

The program uses a student-centered approach to college readiness at 40 high schools in underserved communities throughout the state.

College Knowing & Going works to create a school-wide college-going culture in which all stakeholders – administration, counselors, teachers, community members, students, and families – work collaboratively to ensure low-income, first-generation, underserved Arizona students like Rodrigo not only graduate from high school but also attend (and graduate from) college.

As a Student Ambassador for College Knowing & Going, Rodrigo not only learned how he could apply for college and financial aid, he then helped many of his fellow students do the same.

Congratulations to Rodrigo and all of Arizona’s class of 2023 graduates who have everything to gain by continuing their education after high school!