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Student authors book to honor mother, country
Luis Rodríguez is celebrating two things this month: the publication of his book, and his upcoming graduation.

Student authors book to honor mother, country

Graduate student Luis Carlos González Rodríguez, of Venezuela, was not supposed to have been born.

According to the doctors, anyway.  

They told his mother, Milagro Rodriguez, that she wouldn't be able to have children.  

On Dec. 15, Milagro, whose name means "Miracle" in English, will be in the audience at PSU's Fall Commencement to watch her child graduate with his MBA in international business. 

And, she'll get to congratulate him in person for another of his accomplishments: A book he wrote based on her life that he self-published earlier this month. The title: "The Miracle of Life."  

Written in Spanish, Luis describes it as a vivid story of a humble Venezuelan woman who grew up in a fierce environment, but overcame every obstacle from poverty and fear with her will, faith, and education. 

An inspiration  

Luis is an accountant who earned his degree in the Central University of Venezuela before coming to PSU in 2014 to pursue his MBA.  

"I wanted to do something that would change my life," he said.  

To support himself while here, he worked in the campus dining hall mopping and sweeping. He worked as a painter for the Physical Plant during the summer. He helped with custodial chores in Russ Hall, the University's first and most iconic building.  

"Anything you do, you do it well," he said. "That's the key. It doesn't matter the job. And doing those things helped me to respect others even more."  

And he recalled the stories of his mother, formulating the idea for his book. 

She came from a poor family, Luis said, growing up in an area of high poverty and fear where people struggled with many societal challenges 

One of nine brothers and sisters, she was the only one in her family to attend college.  

"She reached the top," he said. "She never gave up when she wanted something. She tried hard."  

That included hitching rides to classes at the university several miles away.  

"We complain about things, like having to walk someplace or ride a bike, maybe in bad weather, but when I complain and remember her, I think I don't have it so bad," he said.  

She tucked her high heels in her purse, wearing old shoes for the walk, then changed into her nice shoes when she arrived at the university each day.  

But she graduated, Luis said, and became an economist, taking a respected job as president of a public bank in Venezuela.  

Perhaps more importantly, she inspired her son, now 28.  

Six years ago, he traveled to England to spend six weeks studying at Cambridge.  

"I want people to learn that the way you change your mind is by traveling," Luis said. "Your country is not the only country out there. And when you read a book, it can change your perspective, too. It can open your mind and make the world larger."  

When he arrived here, he began the book.  

Chapter by chapter, he sent it to his mother to review.  

Her reaction?  

"She cried. She said she can't believe I paid attention to her stories, the stories she was telling me as I was growing up," he said.  

Luis officially unveiled the book, hot off the press, at a public presentation in Russ Hall two weeks ago. In attendance were fellow students, faculty and staff, and members of his church who had turned out in support of him.

"I didn't write a book to be rich. I just wanted to tell this story," he said. "I read the right books when I was a kid, and they were inspiring."  

If he does wind up making profits, however, he wants to use them to help the people from his state create a library.  

"I don't want a football field or a road, I want something that can change minds for the long term," he said. "I think that's what will help my people the most." 

He dreams of somehow helping to rebuild a historic home in his city, damaged in horrific mudslides, so that it can be used as a museum.

"I want people to know that if you work hard, study hard, don’t give up, you can overcome challenges," Luis said.   

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