Third year student, Sophia Rodriquez, is an advocate for social justice and a leader in efforts aimed towards creating safe, inclusive environments for all. She has committed significant time throughout her years as a UM student, working with participants in the MOSAIC (Mentoring, Organization, and Social Support for Autism/All Inclusion on Campus) program, exceeding academic program service hour requirements, and participating as a member of NSSLHA (National Student Speech, Language, and Hearing Association.) While the time she invests in her service work is significant, Sophia is similarly committed to her own professional development. She participates in community awareness and fundraising activities and attended the Montana State Professional Conference, an optional opportunity for students at which Sophia strategically chose sessions aligned with service and leadership. This provided Sophia the chance to learn about current issues in the profession and ways to serve marginalized populations.
I began addressing issues of social inequalities and human rights in high school by volunteering as a certified mentor at a clinic for children with specialized needs. Working directly with the children gave me a unique insight into issues people with specialized needs face. As I matured, I continued to volunteer and educate myself to be a better ally and advocate to these communities. I came to understand that these communities desire more representation and inclusion. On campus, I am the student director of our MOSSAIC (Mentoring, Organization, and Social Support for Autism/All Inclusion on Campus) program and a member of the Global Leadership Initiative where I am working toward a certificate in Social Inequalities and Human Rights. As the Student Director of MOSSAIC, I organize and lead accommodative weekly social events for MOSSAIC participants, and I work as a mentor to support participants with campus life. Currently, I am co-authoring a Diversity grant to support neurodiversity inclusion in the classroom through sensory modification packages, exploring development options with the MOSSAIC director to further support our neurodiverse students on campus, and participating with stakeholders in a committee to further develop the service-learning course in our department.