By Allison Nitch
Commencement is a major milestone for family and friends to gather and celebrate the graduates in their lives. For Amber Rodriguez-Munoz and Eva Rodriguez, they’ll have the unique experience as members of Seattle University’s Class of ’22—graduating magna cum laude side by side as sisters.
Completing their undergraduate studies together “was special and bonding,” says Amber, a nursing major. “We went through the struggles and triumphs together” and even completed a theology course online from their kitchen.
The sisters developed a routine of nightly study sessions “and it was really monumental in not only building our relationship, but also getting through our programs together,” explains Amber.
Psychology major Eva says, “I don’t know how I would have figured out my degree had I been doing it alone. Having my sister’s support—and our nightly talks—were not only therapeutic, but they … helped cement and solidify what I was learning, as well as expand on it.”
As SU students, the sisters have shared ideas about school and life itself that “generated a lot of growth in understanding life as it was happening … and how it’s applicable to our degrees,” notes Amber.
With Eva approaching topics from a mental health perspective and Amber from a bodily perspective, they were able to “tease out a lot of ideas from the things we were learning in our programs,” says Eva.
“It also helped enforce a scholarly attitude,” which Eva says helped both of them during inevitable challenges and when morale was a bit low. The sisters understood they were in this together and could turn to one another for understanding.
Along with focusing on their academics, the sisters also have experience as frontline workers during the pandemic. Amber has been working as an emergency room technician for three years and Eva worked as a pharmacy assistant during the first wave of COVID-19.
While they both considered other schools and programs, they independently arrived at their decisions to apply to SU. Collectively they agreed it was their campus visits that secured their future paths. “It felt right. SU was calling to me,” Amber says. “It felt like the missing puzzle piece.”
Eva, minoring in Women, Gender and Sexuality studies, remembers tuning into her intuition and being able to see herself at SU while touring campus. “It was so beautiful, quiet and intimate.”
In terms of their favorite SU experiences, Eva looks to faculty—particularly Mary Robertson, PhD, a sociologist with expertise in sexuality and gender and inequalities. “[She] was a really influential professor for me” and regards each of Dr. Robertson’s courses as enjoyable, positive experiences.
For Amber, it’s the feeling that comes with finishing a class strongly. “Taking the final exam, knowing you got a good grade in the class and then looking at your GPA for the quarter and being able to say, ‘I did that.’”
After graduating, Amber will be relocating to Arizona to work as an emergency room nurse. Eva has her sights set first on earning her personal training certification, followed by taking some time off ahead of pursuing graduate school for a dual-track program that combines a Master of Science in Nutrition and Master of Arts in Psychology.
Among Amber and Eva’s supportive family members are their parents and grandparents. Their father Samuel Rodriguez proudly notes Amber and Eva’s academic gifts and says, “My whole life has been dedicated to empowering each of them [his four daughters] to do the best in what they do.”
His hope for Amber and Eva’s professional lives “is that they are patient and kind to themselves as they serve their community, trust in God’s plans for them and keep their faith.”
What comes to mind when these siblings consider walking across stage at Climate Pledge Arena together as graduates? “It is such a special and honorable experience that I will hold close to my heart forever,” says Amber.
“I’m fulfilled and thankful that I’m able to share this moment with my sister,” says Eva. “It’s an ending to a journey that was shared together.”
This story originally appeared in Seattle University’s The Newsroom.