Pacific High graduate Mauricio Rodriguez will go to UCLA next year on academic scholarship. His vast interests at UCLA will range from genetic engineering to a tryout for the Bruins’ boxing team. The aspiring chemist was a CIF-qualifying wrestler at Pacific who in his spare time worked as a stage hand on the local production of Pinocchio. Although he ranked 7th in his senior class of 497 seniors with a 4.34 GPA, Pacific athletic director Carmel Brand says she wouldn’t be surprised if Rodriguez became a boxing champion.
“I didn’t know anything about the boxing, but anything Mauricio decides to do, he will succeed at. He is a fierce competitor who has overcome many dire circumstances, along with crippling asthma,” said Brand. “He was easily picked as our school’s Ken Hubbs Award winner.”
Brand listed a number of accomplishments the 5-foot-10, 145 pound Rodriguez has produced. He won multiple prep wrestling tournaments as team captain, lettered in track and played tennis. He was part of the UCR Future Physician Leader Program, vice president of the Latino Student Union and president of the Calculus Club. “Yes. I hung out with the nerds. Nerds are now the cool kids,” observed Rodriguez. Brand agreed that Rodriguez socialized with the nerds. “Yes. He did. I still would not recommend getting into the boxing ring with him.”
Rodriguez detailed his experience as a volunteer in the labor and delivery ward at St. Bernardine’s Hospital. “I saw a lot of parents who had their first child. Many were scared and excited,” said Rodriguez. “That’s why I want to learn genetic research. We’ll soon have the ability to genetically modify and prevent such events as down syndrome. Genetic modification is nothing for people to worry about.”
Rodriguez realizes that becoming a boxer at UCLA and progressing further in sports is a long shot. “I liked wrestling because its an individual one-on-one sport. I’m also proud of what I accomplished academically in high school and the all nights I spent studying to get here. The solid route for me in college would be to just follow my studies.
Rodriguez had numerous college offers from places like Brown University and UC Berkeley. He says that it will still take work-study, grants and loans to supplement his scholarship. He said that UCLA does not have a NCAA wrestling program and that’s why he’ll try out for the Bruins’ National Collegiate Boxing Association team. “I’m just getting out of high school, so right now I’m going where the wind takes me.”