MSHE Alumna Receives Award For Excellence

MSHE Alumna Receives Award For Excellence

Milvia RodriguezSchool of Education and Social Policy alumna Milvia Rodriguez (MSHE15) received the University of Chicago’s Marlene F. Richman Award for Excellence and Dedication in Service to Students, an honor given to just one person at the University each year.

Rodriguez, assistant director of student affairs, academic advising, and financial aid at Harris Public Policy was praised by her student nominators as a staff member who “shows a genuine interest in students' well-being.”

Several mentioned her supportive participation in many student events, even on evenings and weekends - from playing piano at an annual comedy event to celebrating Black History Month.

“Her support goes beyond that of an academic advisor,” one student wrote. “She has the amazing quality of interacting with others with a closeness that speaks of camaraderie,” said another.

Rodriguez, a career changer,  came to Harris from the world of academic teaching, music performance, and student affairs. She serves as an academic advisor for the master’s students, oversees student financial aid advising and processing, and provides staff support to student organizations such as Minorities in Public Policy, Latin American Matters, and Black Action for Public Policy.

She was hired at the University of Chicago by SESP alumna Kate Biddle (MSHE09), who was Rodriguez’s academic advisor while enrolled in Northwestern’s Master’s in Higher Education Administration and Policy Program. Biddle said she had a good feeling Rodriguez would connect with students and be a positive force in the community.

“Milvia exhibits the kind of empathy, kindness, and dedication that can’t be taught,” said Biddle, dean of students and director of student affairs at Harris.  

“To say I felt proud when I had the honor of presenting the award to her is a profound understatement. We should all be proud that Milvia represents to all of the University what Harris offers our students.”

Prior to joining Harris, Rodriguez worked with the administrative team of Northwestern’s Norris University Center and was a lecturer at Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale and Belmont University in Nashville. At Belmont, she also served as staff accompanist for the Belmont Opera and instrumental/voice faculty studios.

"I always wanted to work with students in an advising capacity more so than teaching a particular subject," she said. 

During her time working as an adjunct piano class instructor and studio accompanist at Nova Southeastern and Belmont University, she also kept thinking about how to transition into a student/academic affairs administrative role to have a deeper understanding and impact on students’ success. 

That led Rodriguez to the MSHE program, which she said she chose for its broad curriculum as well as the location near so many higher education institutions. "In Chicago, I can combine my cultural/musical interests and my passion for student support," she said. 

Rodriguez holds a doctorate in musical arts from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a master’s in higher education from Northwestern University, and a master’s in piano performance from Gnessin Academic of Music in Moscow, Russia. She is originally from Havana, Cuba.

Learn more about the Master's in Higher Education Administration and Policy program at Northwestern. 

By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 8/27/19