Marciela Rodrigues


19 Years Old 

California Foster Care System


Marciela first entered the foster care system when she was only a few days old and has spent 18 years in the foster system. She has experienced 15 plus placements but is now currently attending the University of California  Berkeley (UC Berkeley). She is currently majoring in Applied Mathematics with a concentration in Data Science. 

As a first-generation, low-income, Latinx woman in STEM at the University of California Berkeley, she made sure to utilize every opportunity she could. She is an honorary member of Berkeley Hope Scholar, a program for former foster youth, Underground Scholar, a program for system-impacted students, and STEM Scholars, an honorary program for high achieving statistically underrepresented STEM students. She is the youngest mentor in my internships Navcal and Nav2Cal, where she helps first-generation, low-income, and statistically, marginalized college and high school students better navigate the higher education system. In her first semester, she founded two fully-funded research teams both supervised by tenured professors. She co-created the first-ever all former foster youth research team supervised researching the child welfare system in California.  She also founded an all-people-of-color research team. Where their goal is to increase underrepresented minority students in the UC system by identifying hindrances of the high school to university pipeline—then provide actionable, supportive steps to mitigate these recognized obstacles. Over the summer she was given the opportunity to teach a class on how to demystify research for statistically marginalized communities. She is also a member of the California youth connection (CYC) researching the relationship between the war against drugs and the foster/juvenile justice systems. 

She will never let her past dictate her future. She strongly believes in giving back to the communities she came from by encouraging them to use their past traumas as a weapon to make change rather than an excuse to give up.

Team(s) or Cohort(s)
2021 Outstanding Young Leaders