By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic
Growing up in a devout Catholic home, Alex Rodriguez has always seen Easter weekend as a time of great celebration of his faith and his family.
Rodriguez had even more reason to celebrate this year.
“I found out on Good Friday that I got a full scholarship to Texas Christian University,” said Rodriguez, who joined the Class of 2023 on May 27 in graduating from Bishop Dunne Catholic School. “For me, it was one of the biggest blessings in my life, and it truly made our Easter celebration extra special.”
The Rodriguez family has become a legacy of success at the Oak Cliff school. His younger sister, Sarah, is a rising junior at Bishop Dunne. Older sister, Lola, graduated Bishop Dunne in 2018, earning the Deacon Paul Wood Scholarship to attend the University of Dallas in Irving. She now teaches at St. Cecilia Catholic School.
“I wanted to be like her. I wanted to be successful like her, be involved like her, because she was a role model to me,” Rodriguez said of his older sister. “All the time, she would push me to my limit and get the best out of me. I guess you could say it’s all paid off.”
Rodriquez said that the siblings’ academic successes are made even more special by the sacrifices made by their mother, Virginia Aranda.
“She’s blessed us with so much even though we had so little,” said Rodriguez of Aranda, a single mother of three who for years has served as a teacher’s aide at nearby St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic School. “She would always put us first. She taught us to understand that no matter how little you may have — appreciate all the blessings you do have.”
Mark Clifford, a history teacher at Bishop Dunne Catholic School, called Rodriguez the type of student a teacher wants in class.
“Because he is teachable. He wants to learn. He wants to listen. He wants to help his classmates if they are having trouble understanding the content,” Clifford said. “I believe Alex is, as students say these days, ‘built different’ — he was born with the drive to be successful.”
Patty Salazar-Martel, assistant director of admissions and financial aid at Bishop Dunne, agreed, calling Rodriguez an excellent student.
“He’s always been very active in the Bishop Dunne community and always willing to serve the school,” she said. “His focus has always been on his family, faith, academics and serving his community. His leadership skills are outstanding, and he is a true example of what it is to be a Bishop Dunne Falcon.”
The mission of Bishop Dunne Catholic School is to empower each student to inquire, lead and serve. Salazar-Martel said Rodriguez has without a doubt been a great example for each core value, noting that he has served as a lead student ambassador since freshmen year, a student council member, a member of National Honor Society and Latinos Unidos, an officer in Empowerment Club, a mentor, an athlete, a spiritual retreat leader in both his junior and senior years, and has been involved in campus ministry.
“He was extremely excited to be an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion,” she said. “He has a special passion for the Eucharist and enjoys helping others participate in the Eucharist.”
Clifford, who also serves as the school’s moderator for student council, praised Rodriguez for rising to accept challenges during his time at Bishop Dunne. Clifford pointed to Rodriguez leadership with the student council his junior year as an example.
“His class was in need of a voice, and a leader, and I needed someone that was well-respected and would be willing to be a leader, so I reached out to him to join,” Clifford said. “Almost from the first day, he defined himself as a class leader. He was always one of the first to volunteer for our projects, he showed up early to help set up dances or other events, was key in helping organize donations, was involved with our volunteer work, and was a positive role model for others to look up to.”
Rodriguez plans to study business management at TCU. Having attended Catholic schools since first grade, Rodriguez appreciates the opportunity to remain in a faith-based school as he heads to college.
“Faith has always played an important role in my life,” he said. “I knew that I wanted to go to a Christian, faith-based school. Getting the scholarship to TCU was an answered prayer. It’s going to allow me to grow my faith even more.”