Student in black graduation cap and gown is overcome with emotion while comforted by a male faculty member, also in a black graduation cap and gown.

From living on the streets of Mexico as an orphan to years grappling with gang life in Los Angeles, Alex Rodriguez ’21 has overcome tremendous adversity. With family support and personal resolve, he changed his life and recently graduated from UC San Diego’s Muir College, where he shared his story at commencement ceremonies in June.

“UC San Diego never made me feel like I was abandoned. I found mentors, I found support, I appreciate all the little things,” he said. “These have been the greatest years of my life.”

The literature major also recognized the accomplishments of his fellow graduates: “For graduating from one of the top universities in the world, but also for maintaining resilience through a pandemic and persevering through the whole academic year remotely.”

Hear Rodriguez’s story and all commencement speeches—including the keynote address from alumna Alicia Garza ’02—online at: tritonmag.com/gradspeeches