COPH honors Patrick Rodriguez with the 2023 Excellence in Teaching Award

| Academic & Student Affairs, COPH Home Page Feed, Featured News, Monday Letter, Our Alumni, Students, Take Note!, Undergraduate Programs

Each year, students in the USF College of Public Health (COPH) nominate faculty members for the COPH’s Excellence in Teaching Award.

The award is given to one faculty member who, according to the college’s webpage, “has made major contributions to student development, as well as to the quality of education within their department and the college as a whole.”

This year’s recipient is Patrick Rodriguez, instructor I, who received both his BS and MSPH with a concentration in industrial hygiene from USF.

Patrick Rodriguez, MSPH, CPH. (Photo by Caitlin Keough)

“Receiving this award is a great honor and a recognition of the hard work and dedication that I have put into instruction,” Rodriguez said. “It reminds me of how important it is to make strong connections with the students in my classroom. It also motivates me to continue improving my lecturing skills and keep striving for excellence.”

Rodriguez has a strong background in epidemiology and environmental health and worked for the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County for eight years before returning to his alma mater to teach. At the COPH, Rodriguez teaches a variety of undergraduate courses on topics such as health disparities, public health policies and practices and critical issues in public health.

Students praised Rodriguez for his ability to engage and motivate them.

“In January 2022, I began attending the COPH as a new transfer student from a small community college. It was the first time I was living on my own, just figuring out what I wanted to do with my life,” said COPH student Zachary Sanders in his nomination of Rodriguez. “This was an exciting yet turbulent experience. Patrick Rodriguez was one of the first faculty members to get to know me, talking to me before or after classes and in the hallways. He got to know me on a personal level, asking what motivated me and what I would like to do with my career in public health. Very quickly, the college turned into a place in which I felt like I belonged, one in which faculty cared about the development of its undergraduates and prepared them for anything in life, not just public health.”

“I’ve taken part in different volunteering activities with Patrick,” added Laura Perdiguero in her nomination materials. “The one that made the biggest difference in me was the humanitarian relief activity I carried out with him in Immokalee after Hurricane Ian happened. Patrick is so involved with migrant farm workers, and the experience was so inspiring for me. It taught me a lot about vulnerable communities in Florida.”

In an effort to help his students succeed, Rodriguez said he strives to create a supportive, inclusive environment where students feel valued and are encouraged to participate.

“I believe that every student has the potential to succeed, and I work to create opportunities for each of my students to achieve their goals and fulfill their potential,” he said.

Rodriguez said that what he loves most about teaching is sharing his knowledge of and passion for public health with his students.

“I love seeing the progress and growth of my students as they learn and develop their skills,” he said. “I also love the challenge of finding creative and effective ways to engage my students and help them find their passion. I hope to inspire my students to pursue their interests and to develop a curiosity and thirst for knowledge that will stay with them throughout their lives.”

To view the awards ceremony, click here.

Story by Donna Campisano, USF College of Public Health