Graduating summa cum laude with University Honors as a major in Physics, emphasis in business, and concentration in national security and intelligence is a feat in and of itself but Phillipe Rodriguez didn’t stop there. During his academic career, he has been a member of the Honors Board, Cal State D.C. Scholars Program, the Intelligence Community Scholars Program, Sigma Upsilon Mu Entrepreneurship Fraternity, Phi Beta Lambda, and the Physics Club.
Phillipe didn’t start his illustrious academic career in college. While in high school, Phillipe’s AP physics teacher helped Phillipe attain an internship at Cal State Fullerton under the mentorship of Dr. Khakoo. During this time, he worked in the electron scattering laboratory. It was here that Phillipe honed in on his love of physics and the complexities it offered him. Although he enjoyed physic it also was his most challenging subject, so choosing it as his major was a task that he had to work on every day. Through his connection with Dr. Khakoo, Phillipe was introduced to the Dan Black Physics Business program which offered him scholarships to pay his tuition.
Phillipe learned many important life lessons during his time at CSUF; however, there are several that were most important to him. “First off, be grateful to those who have helped shape the reality that you live in. There have been so many individuals who have helped me along my collegiate career that I dare not call out names individually as much as I can help it – they know who they are.” Phillipe also believes in paying it forward. Receiving scholarships though the Dan Black Physics Business helped him learn this lesson. “The Dan Black Physics Business Program heavily supported my tuition. Dan Black told me that the scholarships I received were simply a loan, and that it is up to us to support future generations of scholars.”
Because of this promise, Phillipe started a scholarship fund called the Rodriguez Graduate Admissions Scholarship for the College of Natural Science and Mathematics. He then went on to fund a grant for the University Honors Senior Honors Project for the 2016-2017 academic year.
Phillipe is now working for the United States Air Force as an acquisition civilian at the Space and Missile Systems Center. Because of his background in physics, entrepreneurial studies and national securities and intelligence, Phillipe fit perfectly into this position. He credits his education in physics helps him solve problems that arise while working. His skills in entrepreneurial business give him the understanding of financial data and lean methodologies. And his national securities studies have shown him how to appreciate the work that he does.
Phillipe has sought to stand out in the acquisition community through his numerous professional endeavors. Phillipe is currently the Vice President of Programs for the National Contract Management Association (NCMA) South Bay Chapter, and successfully passed his NCMA Certified Federal Contracts Manager (CFCM) examination in December. Furthermore, he was selected to participate in NCMA’s prestigious Contract Management Leadership Development Program (CMLDP), which selected 21 contracting professionals from industry and government to participate in the 2017-2018 cohort. This past year Phillipe participated in the inaugural Stanford Hoover Institution Summer Policy Bootcamp, and completed the program with distinction. Among the professional education that he has received with the Air Force, in a contracting course taught by the Air Force Institute of Technology, Phillipe was top graduate among his peers and earned the title of distinguished graduate.
Phillipe leaves our community with some lasting advice. The advice comes from a man who knows about limits and taking on too much. “Much like our muscles or cardiovascular endurance, our capacity to manage our time can become more effective only when it has been put under stress. Therefore, we shouldn’t inhibit ourselves to tasks that may appear to be difficult. We only need to heed the warning signs that are placed in front of us, and when we see that we cannot accomplish all that we have set out to do until risk of fatigue, then we must either withdraw or ask for a helping hand – knowing when to do so has made all the difference.”
During his senior year at Cal state Fullerton, Phillipe applied to Stanford to earn his MBA. He was accepted and deferred his admission until this fall. He hopes to continue his career in a leadership position in the Department of Defense. We look forward to seeing where Phillipe ends up and what other impacts he will have on the future.
Written by Mary Hartley and Traci Muldoon
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