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Professional Women’s Chamber Announces Arlene Rodriguez as 2016 Woman of the Year

SPRINGFIELD — The Professional Women’s Chamber (PWC) has announced that Arlene Rodriguez, vice president of academic affairs for Springfield Technical Community College has been named the PWC 2016 Woman of the Year.

The Woman of the Year is presented to a woman in the Western Mass. area who exemplifies outstanding leadership, professional accomplishment, and service to the community.

This award has been given annually since 1954 and is publically recognized as one of the most prestigious honors given to any citizen for distinguished service and selfless giving.

“We’re thrilled with this year’s honoree — a truly inspiring and accomplished woman like Dr. Rodriguez,” said PWC Board President Janet Casey. “She is a trailblazer amongst women and a staunch advocate for education, empowerment and advancement and her passion to help young people succeed is unparalleled.”

A celebration in her honor will be held on May 24, at 5:30 p.m. at the Carriage House, Storrowton Tavern, 1305 Memorial Ave., West Springfield.  Reservations are $55 and may be made online at www.springfieldregionalchamber.com or by contacting Kara Cavanaugh at [email protected]. At STCC, Rodriguez oversees all faculty in the academic schools at the college, and formerly was the school’s dean of the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. She has also served as the Honors College coordinator and professor at the college, and is the first Latina vice president of academic affairs at the College.

Rodríguez grew up in New York City, spending each of her summers in Aibonito, Puerto Rico, a rural mountain town where her parents’ roots grow deep. Life in New York taught her an appreciation for an expansive, fast-paced city life with all peoples, cultures, and languages, while Aibonito showed her the importance of family, neighbors, and their stories.

Born in The Bronx to parents who never finished high school, Rodriguez, the youngest of four, learned to read by reading articles aloud from the newspaper to her mother as she cooked breakfast every morning. At a young age she developed a love for the written word devouring everything from newspapers to magazines and classic literature.

Rodríguez speaks English and Spanish, and longs to add Italian to that list. Her love of literature led her to earn three degrees in English, including her undergraduate one from Fordham University, a master’s from Lehigh University, and her doctorate from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

Rodríguez has been a journalist and a short-fiction writer. For more than 10 years, she taught English at Springfield Technical Community College. She has served as the college’s dean of the School of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences from 2005-2015, when she was then promoted to vice president of academic affairs, the first Latina to serve in that position.

She was recently honored with the Springfield Women’s Commission Unsung Heroine Award, was named a 2007 BusinessWest 40 Under 40, and was honored with the STCC Anthony Scibelli Endowed Chair in 2005.

She is a member of the YWCA Board of Directors, and serves on Springfield’s Rosa Parks Organizing Committee, Springfield Ward 7 Democratic City Committee, Springfield Armory Council and the WGBY Board of Tribunes and Latino Advisory Board.

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