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Leading the way: Victoria-Ann Rodriguez ’12, G’17

Victoria-Ann Rodriguez’s relationship with Bay Path began years before she registered for her first class. “My mother was in one of the early classes that graduated from the One Day program,” she explained.

Her mother, Haydee Lamberty-Rodriguez ’04, had found community, support and ambition in what was then known as the One Day A Week program. A precursor to Bay Path’s American Women’s College, the One Day program brought adult women to the Longmeadow campus on Saturdays and offered them an accelerated route to earning their bachelor’s degrees.  

As Rodriguez grew up, she cultivated her own sense of purpose in her Springfield community through participation in Girl Scouts, where she would routinely cross paths with Bay Path’s then-president, Carol Leary.

“I grew up with Dr. Leary,” Rodriguez said. “She knew my mother and would see us together at all these Girl Scouts events and ask me, ‘When are you coming to Bay Path?’”

When Rodriguez finally arrived for her first year, she had a sense of what inspired her and a focus that frequently eludes 18-year-olds. “I took all the legal courses that were offered in my high school. I was on the moot court, and I knew I wanted to work in the legal field,” she explained.

That academic focus was balanced with work-study jobs that allowed her to share her enthusiasm for Bay Path with prospective students. “I worked in admissions, and I led tours, open houses and orientations, emphasizing the message that girls like me, Latina, from the area, can come to Bay Path and be successful.”

The connection Rodriguez has to her community is an ongoing source of passion and motivation, and she is both inheritor of a cherished heritage and a conduit for passing ambition and success to the next generation.

She upholds her family’s tradition of helping plan, organize and run Springfield’s Annual Puerto Rican Parade. “My favorite day of the year,” she noted. “We walk into the heart of the Puerto Rican community in the North End of Springfield, and the streets are filled.”

As a student, she channeled that sense of community into a collaboration with Dr. Leary that promoted Bay Path to Hispanic students from Holyoke to Hartford. “We scheduled the first Hispanic Open House, with campus tours in Spanish and translated documents so that we could connect with first-generation families.”

Eleven years after earning her undergraduate degree in legal studies and seven years after earning her master’s in leadership and negotiation, Rodriguez still sees Bay Path as a place where she’s able to bring her varied interests and talents together to foster an empowered community.

As a senior paralegal in the litigation department at MassMutual, Rodriguez is responsible for deciphering the legalese in lawsuits and death claims that are critical to the functioning of a multi-billion-dollar life insurance company. That professional experience, and the fact that she’s a young woman still in the early years of her career, resonates with the Bay Path students Rodriguez teaches as an adjunct in the Justice Studies department.

She said, “I teach Computer Assisted Legal Research, and it’s great for the students to see me bringing scenarios directly from work into the class. I also teach Wills, Trusts, and Estates, and I post questions based on my own job up on the board, so that we can begin brainstorming when they come in. They’re already challenged with a mission and a real-life situation.”

After triumphantly emceeing this year’s Bay Path’s Women’s Leadership Conference, Rodriguez has already set her sights on the next goal: law school. “This summer will be for studying for LSATS,” she elaborates. “I feel ready to start the law school journey, so we will do that!” 

Please visit the MS in Leadership & Negotiation program page to learn about curriculum, faculty, program options, and more!