From Barelas to Cornell

Cornell University has had the wisdom of accepting Burque’s own Sonora Rodríguez to its graduate program in City and Regional Planning. Sonora is an enormously talented and dedicated graduate of the University of New Mexico and of Albuquerque High. She'll be relocating 2,001 miles from Burque to Ithaca, New York this August to join the Cornell grad progam.  (For more on this highly competative graduate program, and to get a glimpse of where Sonora will be training, see: Cornell City and Regional Planning Department )

We have had the true blessing of Sonora in our lives as a community member and as a student, and we know that the funds raised will help support her relocation, as well as give her more of the tools that will make her Ivy League adventure positive and successful. 

As part of her acceptance, Sonora has been awarded a partial grant towards tuition, but she may also have to hold two jobs: 1) as a Graduate Teaching/Research Specialist within her department, and 2) as a Graduate Assistant in the Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives. We know that her friends, colleagues, familia, and supporters of Chicanxs in higher ed all welcome the opportunity to support her journey!

Sonora Rodriguez has taken on leadership roles in her community since high school. As the daughter of a single-father, Sonora has drawn on the support of her extended family and her community, but her accomplishments are due largely to her own dedicated efforts at achieving her goals. Through the loss of her mother her freshman year in high school, through social and economic challenges, Sonora pushed forward with a determined maturity and resilience.

She worked through high school as a baby sitter, a tennis instructor, and office assistant in UNM’s Pathology and Occupational Therapy.  Indeed, Sonora was featured in The Albuquerque Journal as a one of the city's "Selfless Seniors" in recognition of her work.

After serving as Albuquerque High Senior Class President, Sonora came to UNM and became an El Puente Scholar, a McNair Scholar, was named in Who’s Who Among College Students, and presented her research at the National Chicano Studies Conference, the University of Buffalo, and at Albuquerque’s historic Hubble House.

Sonora works generously with others, and is currently the youngest Board Member of Center for Social and Sustainable Systems (CESOSS). She also serves on the Board of Casa Barelas, is the Neighborhood Outreach Coordinator for Rail Yards in the Barelas neighborhood, and a Youth Organizer the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP).

Since her high school years, Sonora has worked to improve the lived conditions in marginalized communities, and she will use her training from Cornell’s highly selective program in Planning to continue that work. Sonora travelled as a volunteer in Veraguas, Panamá with the Amigos de Las Americas project; she taught education classes to elementary-aged children in Ecuador; studied Spanish at Universidad de Guadalajara; researched water systems and community development in Ocosingo, Chiapas, Mexico; and in 2012, Sonora made a pilgrimage to her ancestral family village in Guanamé, Mexico.

At UNM, she returned to work as Research Intern at El Centro de la Raza and worked to educate incoming UNM students on the Bridge Scholarship and the Lottery Scholarship and organized informational sessions that aim to increase the retention and success of incoming first-generation students.

Throughout, Sonora has raised funds for her own higher education and community labors, working long hours while maintaining her solid academic record. Sonora has been a Community School Coordinator at Atrisco Heritage Academy High School, supporting the establishment of Ethnic Studies at the high school level, and she facilitated dual credit Mexican Studies Class at three Albuquerque high schools.

When you talk with Sonora, she’ll tell you about her desire to continue being a community servant. She is deeply committed to our state, and completes the Northern New Mexico Pilgrimage for Vocations—a 100-mile devotional walk with women leaders. On any given day in Burque, you can find Sonora at farmer’s markets, community meetings, trainings, and planning sessions. While we’ll miss her beautiful smile and infectiously enthusiastic spirit while she’s in upstate New York, we know that her training and education at Cornell will give her more of the tools to support and transform our communities.

Sonora’s passion for community development and social justice is clear. Sonora has been working toward this opportunity her entire life. Please help us support her!

We know from our own relocation east, that we New Mexicans need some critical survival supplies: green chili, carne seca, and winter gear especially. Because it's hard to survive and thrive when you're hungry, cold, and wet! 

While Sonora is currently working two jobs to raise funds for her move, here are the major expenses she still needs to cover:

-Books ($800 approx. $200 a semester)
-New laptop w/ computer programs specific for City and Regional Planning , such as GIS software ($1200)
-Travel between from Burque to Ithaca, New York ($700)
- Upfront cost for Housing (first and last month’s rent, and security deposit) $1,200 x 3 ($3,600)
-Winter coat & winter boots ($300)
-Health Insurance for 1st year ($2,600)

  Total: $9,200



  • Anonymous
    • $50 
    • 6 yrs


Patricia Perea
Placitas, NM

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