In honor of Veterans Day, Mercy College is featuring John Rodriguez ‘92, an esteemed alumnus who retired from the U.S. Army three years ago after a rewarding 35-year career. He now works in logistics for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is deployed to locations around the country to organize natural disaster recovery operations.
Rodriguez joined the Air Force as a recruiter at Fort Hamilton shortly after high school graduation, starting as a sergeant, with aspirations to finish his college degree and subsequently rise in the ranks of the military. While gaining his associates degree, he applied to several bachelor’s degree programs, and was admitted to high-quality schools, including Mercy College.
Mercy College is recognized by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs as a Yellow Ribbon school of distinction and by U.S. Veterans Magazine as a top Veteran Friendly School. Due to the tuition support offered by Mercy, engaging professors and student support services, Rodriguez ultimately enrolled in the College’s international business program, taking night and weekend classes. He graduated with an exceptional grade point average, and soon applied to join the U.S. Army.
“Mercy made it happen,” said Rodriguez. “Being in the military, the College was willing to help me out with my tuition. Mercy made life so much easier – for my family and me. I can’t thank Mercy enough.”
Because of his bachelor’s degree from Mercy and his demonstrated strong academic achievement, Rodriguez automatically qualitied for the “direct commission” position upon his application and eventual acceptance into the Army. This meant when he joined the army, he was fast-tracked from the role of sergeant to officer. Throughout his time in the Army, he enjoyed a rewarding career in service of the United States and ultimately retired as director of logistics at Fort Dix, a post in New Jersey.
Rodriguez just returned from a year-long station in Houston, Texas, organizing natural disaster response logistics after Hurricane Maria inflicted severe damage to communities. He explained that he works with many personnel from the armed services at FEMA. “Veterans bring discipline and other qualities that are extremely useful in a disaster recovery environment,” said Rodriguez.
COVID-19 transpired while Rodriguez was in Houston, and he and his experienced colleagues were careful to implement and follow protocol to ensure the safety of FEMA and community members.
Back in time for Thanksgiving, Rodriguez looks forward to spending the holidays in his home state of New York and getting more involved with Mercy alumni activities, which he finds to be valuable, especially as a veteran.
“Mercy is welcoming – you make connections, sometimes with other veterans, at events hosted by the College. Mercy welcomes you with open arms, all the time, like you never left. It’s like you’re part of a big family, and to me, family is number one,” said Rodriguez.