For Bronx native, multi-media artist Amabell Rodriguez, life has not always been easy. From both her parents passing, to losing money and being laid-off after the economic crash, there was a point, she reflected, in which she lost so much. “But not my life,” she affirms. Lucky for Amabell, she has a good support system and a relentless drive. “My mind is just wild with ideas ,” she said. “I implement what I think.” And after thinking about continuing her education, Rodriguez matriculated at Hostos Community College to complete her Associate’s degree. Amabell’s goal was to, “Come, conquer and then leave elevated and accomplished.” She graduated in 2012, having done just that.
Tell us a little about your trajectory at Hostos College.
I worked in fashion for a while… things got crazy with the economy in 2008 and they let me go from the job that I was in for years. Then one day I received a letter that said something along the lines of ‘You can go back to school.’ At this point everything came to a halt and I said to myself ‘Wow, I really have to ground myself as an individual.’ And that’s how my re-education as an adult started. The thing that I love about Hostos, that a lot of people don’t understand, is that you could never underestimate small junior colleges. It was an incredible experience because if anyone ever doubted themselves the staff there won’t cut you down. They’re there to build you up and I felt like I was built up.
You got a minor in Digital Design. What did you major in and why?
Liberal arts. I took the cluster of behavioral sciences, because I felt that if I was going to be a teacher and I was going to be a mentor, I really needed to [understand] human behavior.
What contributions do you hope to make in the future?
If I can reach one child or individual of color and let them know their self-worth and what they’re capable of doing, if I can just reach one person then that’s my completion. My objective is to educate. That’s the contribution I want to make.
So what’s your background? Where are you from?
Soy Boricua. My father from Guayama and my mother is from Río Piedras.
How do you maintain your roots?
I have my Taino natives: Bobby Gonzalez, Taino Ray. So to me, it’s to stay with my mentors who are constantly feeding me that knowledge and that heritage. I’m so inspired. It’s about straight up education with my Puerto Rican counterparts. I was functioning in a dark place. Now it’s about rediscovering myself.
A functioning dark place—what would you say to people who are in that space?
At the end of the day, what a person needs is a support system and if you don’t have that, or seek that out, you can fall through the cracks. You can feel like you’re drowning. But if somebody believes in you, seek the opportunity.
Article By Giovanna Acosta