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Tim Rodriguez ’92: Why I VMI

Tim Rodriguez ’92



That’s the calm response from Tim Rodriguez ’92, when asked if he’s glad he attended VMI.

He might not have felt that way on his first day at VMI, when he showed up with a shoulder-length hairstyle and a beat up VMI baseball cap, turned around backwards. Both the hairstyle and cap were the result of a pre-matriculation “challenge” from older brother, Edward ’89. Both also resulted in some extra-special cadre attention on Matriculation Day. Rodriguez’s feelings that day are memorialized in the 1989 Bomb.

As the spring of 1992 neared, the mechanical engineering major knew he did not want to follow a military path. He did feel a “call to serve.”

“I knew I had classmates and roommates that were going into the service and I wanted to do something for my country,” he recalled. He researched possibilities, applied to and was accepted to the Peace Corps. He served two years in Ecuador and South America as a water sanitation engineer.

His experience at VMI, beginning with the Rat Line, gave him a lasting confidence, Rodriguez said. “Especially during your first year, as a rat, you gain this ability or you have the ability to thrive in adversity – to not just survive, but to adapt.”

Both experiences – VMI and the Peace Corps – strangely echoed each other. Early in his rat year, Rodriguez remembers sitting in J.M. Hall and being instructed to look to his left and right – and then being told that some of those people would not finish the rat year. In the Peace Corps, an instructor told his group that half of the volunteers would likely not finish the two-year commitment.

Rodriguez takes life one small piece at a time and focuses on staying positive. Family, travel, kids, community volunteer work – he puts forth his best effort in everything he does. He travels to VMI alumni events, even when it’s inconvenient for him, because he knows he can have a positive effect on someone by attending.

Rodriguez has interacted with VMI cadets and was impressed by their intelligence, sincerity and decency. Since graduation, he’s given financially to VMI. He remembers his time as cadet, uncomfortable with VMI but still knowing that “I would be a better person for experiencing it.” Dedicated, passionate alumni are part of what makes the Institute “the school that it is” – which is why Rodriguez continues to steadily, quietly support VMI.

“I support VMI in a quiet way, but with all my heart,” he said.

  • Christian Heilman

    Christian Heilman Director of Digital Content

    The director of digital content is responsible for creating original video and multimedia materials, as well as developing and editing web and digital content. The director is responsible for platform coordination and troubleshooting, to include the VMI Alumni Agencies’ primary websites, digital newsletter and other digital platforms.

    Molly Rolon

    Molly Rolon Editorial Specialist