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XYZ with Q 7: Handing-out Hot Chocolate with Michael Rodriguez ’19

By Quanzhi Guo on September 19, 2016

In the original blog series XYZ with Q, Quanzhi “Q” Guo ’18 visited current and former Benton Scholars to learn about their interests, passions, and accomplishments. Now, Alumni Memorial Scholars have joined the party!  In this post, Q visits Michael Rodriguez ’19 to give out free hot chocolate on Friday morning.

It’s getting chilly at Colgate—the time of year when the air lets you know it will soon be fall. And nothing, seriously, can beat a complimentary cup of hot chocolate (with marshmallow melted on top) handed out near the chapel steps on a brisk Friday morning. 

Little did I knew that Alumni Memorial Scholar Michael Rodriguez ’19, from Grandview in Washington State, was that guy who made the race to 8:20am classes so much more comforting, especially in the middle of the snow.

On a bright Friday morning, I joined Michael for hot-chocolate. To every person who passed by, he flashed a big smile. To Michael, small acts of kindness are one way he gives back. “When people need help, I usually go all-out to help them,” he said.

If you are scrutinizing a Colgate map and Michael walks by, chances are he will not only tell you the way, but also take you wherever you are going, for real.

Back in his hometown church, Michael volunteered as a waiter for Christian camps, worked as a dishwasher and server for local high schools, and helped the elderly as a handyman by washing cars, changing light bulbs, and installing new appliances.

When I asked Michael why he does all these kind things, he was actually a bit puzzled. “If people need help, why let them suffer. Why not try to help?”

To Michael, to help is to give someone a little bit of happiness. “We are all human beings, we all have emotions, we all go through the same sort of things. I think lots of issues today are caused by people not being nice to each other,” he said.

Michael is really humble about his deeds, and it took a while to coax him into telling me what he has done. “You can say all you want without doing anything. And I remember my father always telling me ‘do your best, forget the rest,’” he said.

Outside of class, Michael is also an admission tour guide and hosts prospective students overnight, because his positive visit convinced him commit to Colgate. “I want to give back to the Colgate community by helping others discover the wonders of Colgate,” he said.

Now a prospective molecular biology major and a German minor, Michael wants to be a healthcare professional in the future, probably in family medicine. “Though it’s not the most glamorous (in the medicine field), I like the doctor-patient interaction,” he added.

As an AMS scholar, Michael hopes to attend the Freiburg Study Group and use his AMS funding to study the German healthcare system. “I want to see the differences between the US healthcare system and the German one. From what I learnt, they prioritize preventative measures so you’re not sick in the first place and don’t need to go to see doctors. If you feel overstressed, you can go see doctors and they will prescribe you a vacation!” he said.

Michael’s interest in healthcare comes from seeing his grandmother working at a family clinic when he was a child. To him, this is another way of giving back to more people. And as the hot chocolate barrel is emptied and the last cup of hot chocolate is given out, I am convinced that giving is better than receiving.

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