Chatting with OMSI and the LatinX Collective Individual - Miguel Rodriguez
The Career Center is excited to share Miguel Rodriguez’s story revolving around work, academics, and personal growth. We wanted to give you the opportunity to hear from someone in the latinx community who is working and attending school, like many of you. We hope his words will inspire you to speak out, actively work, seek out and stride for your independence through goals you set for yourself.
Miguel Rodriguez surrounded by a wall of white flowers in bloom.
Miguel Rodriguez, Oregon Museum of Science & Industry
Degree and Class year:
Bachelor’s of Science, 2016. Currently pursuing an MFA in Collaborative Design, 2023.
Orizaba Veracruz, Mexico. But I consider Huntington Beach, CA more of my hometown.
Q: What three words would you use to describe Lewis & Clark?
A: Collaborative, engaging, and fun!
Q: What did you study while attending Portland State University? Why?
A: I studied mathematics, with the original goal of becoming a mathematics teacher. But, as we often experience, life had other plans!
Q: What are you currently studying while at Pacific Northwest College of Art? How does what you study pertain to your work at OMSI and the LatinX Collective?
A: I’m currently studying Collaborative Design at PNCA, which involves a blend of graphic design, community engagement, art, coding, and all of the other creative endeavors that I’ve always wanted to explore (with more intent). While not completely evident at times, this program is providing me with more tools, frameworks, and methods to expand my DEI efforts and organizing efforts.
Q: What led you to work for OMSI and the LatinX Collective?
A: A lot of my upbringing and early career roles had elements of social justice sprinkled throughout, but I didn’t really have the words for it. After a while, I had more of the vocabulary and wanted to become more engaged with my communities. Working at OMSI is one of those things where I’m able to blend outreach, community engagement, and social justice and get paid for it. On the other hand, I wanted to make sure that I was also out in my community giving back; the collective’s members were wanting to provide for our community because of all of the blessings they have provided us - it’s a give and take, and vice versa.
Q: What do you find the most interesting about your work at OMSI?
A: Understanding more of the intricacies of a nonprofit. But at the same time, since I’m working in HR there’s a significant level of responsibility that I must balance. Working with people, and seeing both the good and the bad is ever evolving and brings a lot of sudden projects to the forefront.
Q: What do you find the most interesting about your work at LatinX Collective?
A: Being able to find my own sense of community within the Latinx community. In the past, I was unable to really fit in because of my interests and passion, which went counter to many stereotypes. However, it’s important to realize that we are not a monolith, and that there are other people with shared values out there. Just got to find them!
Q: What is one of the best pieces of advice you have been given? Does it apply to you today?
A: The money will eventually come - it’s not the most important thing. This advice came from a friend when I was struggling with balancing my work at a college access nonprofit. I lowkey wanted to go somewhere else and make money, but it wasn’t going to be meaningful work. I’m not advocating to undersell yourself, but sometimes we need to work difficult jobs that are meaningful to be in a better place. It’s always a balancing of where you are, where you want to go, and how it connects to your community. This still applies, and is part of the reason I’m attending grad school right now!
Q: What advice would you give to students currently looking for a job/internship?
A: Ask anyone and everyone. There are less degrees of separation than you might think. Also, in general, most people are really excited to share your information to their networks; you just have to ask. I wish I had done more of that when I was in undergrad. Now that I’m a grad student, I’m doing it all of the time, and now I have to prioritize which opportunities I want to do vs which I shouldn’t. It’s a good problem to have.
Q: What other personal interests do you have, aside from your work? How do they play a role in your daily life?
A: I have a huge interest in hip-hop music. I make my own music under my stage name, Mike Firm, and it impacts the manner in which I conduct storytelling and do organizing work. Expression is vital to these efforts, and it also allows me to separate my day to day with something that provides me the platform to experiment and connect with others in a different manner.
Prompt: Ask a question that you wish you had the answers to when you were getting your associate degree and working at the same time. His response is as follows…
Q: Who is in my corner, and who is not?
A: This is something that I still ask myself to this very day. It’s okay to fallout with people; not all relationships are meant to last. And this was pretty obvious as I began my college journey. The people that you think are on your side, might not be; and the people that you think might not be able to support, can!
Q: What is the best way to reach you if students would like to reach out to you about further academic and work experience and advice?
A: People can reach out to me at email@example.com, but folks can also follow me on my social medias or check out my website (mikefirm.com). If you reach out, I’ll get back to you. Love connecting folks with new networks, experiences, and potential collaborations.
Kaya Tsabari, She/Her/Hers