Battle Mountain grad Zyanya Rodriguez is Eagle River Youth Coalition youth leader for March | VailDaily.com

Battle Mountain grad Zyanya Rodriguez is Eagle River Youth Coalition youth leader for March

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Zyanya Rodriquez

It is amazing how much a grandparent can influence the person we become, even though they are often a part of our lives for a shorter period of time. This could not be truer for this month's Eagle River Youth Coalition youth spotlight, Zyanya Rodriguez.

When she starts talking about her grandma, Rodriguez begins to radiate with joy and cannot stop smiling. She explains that her grandma helped raise her and her little sister and that this amazing woman and role model made a huge impact on Rodriguez and the exceptional young woman she has become.

Strong Community Values

During Rodriguez' childhood, her grandma would split her years living with and helping her two daughters, one of whom lived in Edwards (Rodriguez' mother) and one in Mexico. Her grandma instilled strong community values in Rodriguez and introduced her to what has become one of the most important aspects of Rodriguez' life: religion. She explained how her grandma spent a lot of her free time completing volunteer work in Mexico, often volunteering in jails and also helping people living in rural and impoverished areas.

Rodriguez' grandma would work hard each year to collect blanket donations, food donations and toys for the children in these areas. She instilled these values into Rodriguez, who has a strong love for Eagle County and is motivated to help and make a difference in any way she can. When asked what she loves the most about living here, she explained that she loves the mountains and the beauty that is always around. She is immensely thankful for everything she has acquired here: a free education since preschool and through college and an amazing extensive family within this community.

Hitting Milestones

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Rodriguez graduated from Battle Mountain High School in 2013 and is currently finishing up a general associates degree with a focus on graphic design at Colorado Mountain College. She will graduate in May and will start her bachelor's degree at Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Texas.

She is excited to move and begin her studies focused on youth and student ministry, but she is very nervous to leave the valley. She sees herself becoming a youth pastor when she finishes her bachelor's degree and hopes this degree will prepare her to work with youth. She is ready to commit her life to learning about youth challenges and how best to support them.

Rodriguez plays a leadership role for VN youth, a youth group out of VNCC in Gypsum. She grew up attending this youth group and now organizes bimonthly youth service meetings; plans events, outreach, community service hours to help seniors; and recently took 50 local youth to a conference in Denver.

Motivating Youth

Rodriguez' biggest goal right now is to raise enough money to send a group of youth to Houston to perform their human video skit at the National Fine Arts Festival. This group of nine local high school students recently got selected to attend nationals; their skit is focused on unity and coming together through all of the ongoing negative news that we hear. She loves motivating youth to show off their talents, especially when they lack the confidence to do it.

When asked about mental health and other youth challenges in Eagle County, she reflects back to the youth group she helps lead and how it helps youth who are experiencing mental health challenges. If anyone is having a hard time, then the group drops everything to help the youth who is struggling.

Work hard, but make time

On Sundays, they have around 50 youth attend their youth service, which provides a great opportunity and comfortable environment for them to share their stories and talk openly about any struggles they have been experiencing. Rodriguez feels today's youth struggle to express themselves and she worries about youth making deep, meaningful connections in the age of smartphones.

As she wraps up her final semester at CMC and balances her school commitments with leading a youth group, working for the Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District in Edwards and being an Eagle County Communities that Care Youth Advisor for the Eagle River Youth Coalition, she cannot help but reflect back to her grandma and know how proud she would be to see all that Rodriguez has accomplished.

Rodriguez is grateful that her grandma instilled in her the drive to always work hard but still find time to help and play a big role in your community.

Make a donation

To help Zyanya Rodriguez’s youth group get to the National Fine Arts Festival, consider donating to their Go Fund Me page, http://www.gofundme.com/bghrj6-national-fine-arts-festival. More information about the group, including upcoming fundraisers at WECMRD, can be found on Facebook at NFAF Unite.