IU School of Liberal Arts
When she stood before many of Indiana’s pre-eminent political observers during the 2006 Bulen Symposium, Isabel Rodriguez was making more than observations on today’s political landscape: she was making history.
The senior in the School of Liberal Arts became the first student ever to serve as a speaker or presenter at the prestigious political gathering hosted every other year by IUPUI. But such achievements are nothing new to Isabel: she is the first in her family to attend college, is a Ronald E. McNair Scholar (a scholarship program named for the late NASA astronaut), and already an accomplished researcher in her chosen field: politics.
The former Marine will graduate in May well prepared for a career in political analysis, or perhaps even into the behind-the-scenes world of managing political campaigns. To help prepare her for that topsy-turvy world, she is interning this semester for the Indiana Democratic Party, as well as working for the Nature Conservancy.
She is a protégé of one of IUPUI’s most widely recognized faculty members, Brian Vargus of the political science department in Liberal Arts. His passion for political analysis and commentary fanned the flames of her own interest in the field, and helped her study and present findings on such topics as the impact of major events (like 9/11) on voting patterns among American citizens.
The Bulen Symposium event is just her latest public appearance; Isabel has discussed her research in speeches and conferences across the U.S. And she honed her public speaking skills as the 2004 winner of IUPUI’s tradition-laden Speech Night competition.
Though her passion is politics, Isabel’s college work includes elements of such related disciplines as journalism and communications that will move her toward her career goals. Isabel also has mentored other IUPUI students in the Nina Mason Pulliam Legacy Scholars program, students who — like her — came to IUPUI through Ivy Tech State College.