Raquel Rodriguez is a graduate of The Montclair Kimberley Academy who is attending the University of Delaware in the fall, majoring in pre-veterinary medicine and animal biosciences.
Raquel was raised in Newark to a single mother, who is a police officer in the city.
"I feel as though I was forced to mature quicker throughout the years," Raquel said. "There were many times where I had to miss athletic events or school activities in order to stay home and take care of my brother when my mother was working. Luckily, I still excelled in school and learned how to manage my time."
In high school, she participated in varsity softball and volleyball all four years.
While sports played a big part of my life along with academics, I was committed to being involved with the community," she said.
She founded and lead of a community service initiative group at her school called Helping Hands, which was created to provide students with the opportunity to volunteer with different parts of the community.
"As a group we participated in different activities such as feeding the homeless by Penn Station, clothes drives, and more," she said.
Additionally, she served as a volunteer for the Hispanic Law Enforcement Society of Essex County for the last four years and plans to continue supporting the organization.
"This group is very important to me as it allows me the opportunity to get closer with the community, specifically with people of the same culture and heritage as me," Raquel said.
She also volunteered at different animal shelters, which has impacted her decision to pursue a career working with animals.
"I am dedicated to educating and positively influencing others in order to make a change for the greater good in our world," she said. "I am a huge animal advocate, specifically for the Pit Bull breed."
She has done research on Breed Specific Legislation, which regulate or ban certain breeds of dog by placing them on a "dangerous list" and consequently, not allowing ownership of those breeds in certain towns or counties.
"In the future, I plan to study more and to work towards overturning discriminatory laws, like BSL," she said. "My goal is to be able to educate others in order to combat false stereotypes associated with the Pit Bull breed."