Posted November 9, 2016

First Fey Scholarship recipient leaves mark on campus

Ashley Rodriguez, Class of 2017, is a leader of veteran students on Temple’s campus.

Student Ashley Rodriguez smiling as she meets Tina Fey and others.
Photography By: 
Ryan S. Brandenberg
U.S. Navy veteran and president of the Temple Veterans Association Ashley Rodriguez, right, is the first recipient of the Donald H. Fey Memorial Scholarship for veteran students in the School of Media and Communication.

Veteran Ashley Rodriguez, Class of 2017, found her inspiration to enlist in the U.S. Navy through a world map that decorated a recruiting office. The map was dotted with multi-colored pins—evidence of various recruits’ travels during their service.

“I noticed all the places they were going: Hawaii, the Middle East, Japan,” said Rodriguez, who served as a postal clerk in the Navy from 2005 to 2010. “I said to myself, ‘I want some pins on a map,’ and enlisted.”

The postal clerk position with the Navy fulfilled her desire to travel—she was stationed around the world in Bahrain, England, Japan, Kuwait and Qatar.

While attending community college in San Diego, her last duty station, the Rochester, New York native decided to head back east for college. She visited schools in Philadelphia, where her sister lived.

“When I saw Temple’s communication studies program, I said ‘This is it! I don’t want to look anywhere else,’” Rodriguez recalled. “I sold everything in my apartment, drove across America and came to Temple.”

The right choice
It’s been a solid choice for Rodriguez, who is the first recipient of the Donald H. Fey Memorial Scholarship, an award established by Tina Fey and her brother Peter, SMC ’84, to honor their father, the late Donald Fey, SMC ’66, who studied journalism at Temple after serving in the Korean War. The scholarship benefits veterans who are studying within the School of Media and Communication.

Rodriguez first found out about the Fey Scholarship when she was asked to share information about it with other SMC vets, and was urged to apply for for the newly created scholarship herself.

Rodriguez considers herself a big Tina Fey fan, and was pleased with how genuinely sweet and humble the Fey family was when she met them at this year’s Lew Klein Awards.

“I love Baby Mama. When I was deployed, I watched that movie all the time,” Rodriguez said. “When you’re deployed, you need that comic relief. And we quote Mean Girls in the office constantly.”

Leaving her mark
When she arrived at Temple in the spring of 2015, Rodriguez became involved with the Temple Veterans Association as its event coordinator. She was elected president of the organization earlier this year.

The association’s goals are to provide career development, education advancement and networking for veteran students, a task now made easier with the creation of the Military and Veteran Services Center this fall.

Rodriguez’s leadership was crucial in getting the new center off the ground. She applied for a Home Depot grant through the Student Veterans of America coalition and won $10,000. The funding helped furnish the new office located in Conwell Hall on Main Campus.

“People come in to meet employers, to study, to vent; we are a sounding board for veterans who have problems,” Rodriguez said. “Veterans have different needs in the classroom, and finding a ‘battle buddy,’ is a big thing for them, having someone they identify with.”

After her May graduation, Rodriguez plans to move to Toronto or New York City and pursue a career in community organizing.

She also hopes to create a post-9/11 Veterans Center, so that those veterans can find each other easily—something she thinks is currently better organized by Vietnam War and World War II veterans.

“Veterans serve people they don’t know and it’s really a selfless thing to do,” Rodriguez said. “We don’t always get recognized, we don’t have welcome home parades anymore—my goal is just for vets to get that appreciation and support when they come to school.”

—Hayley Chenoweth