Senior Spotlight: Student Marshal Alina Rodriguez

Alina Rodriguez wears maroon shirt

Alina Rodriguez

Credit: Mackenzie Cullen

WYOMISSING, Pa. — Alina Rodriguez, a Penn State Berks information technology major with a focus on AI and data analytics and a 4.0 GPA, was selected as this year’s student marshal. She will deliver a speech titled “What’s the Point?” at the college’s commencement ceremony at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 4, at the Santander Arena. 

Rodriguez explained that Penn State was the only university she applied to, due to its renowned reputation for excellence, particularly in technology. Originally planning to transfer to University Park campus for the 2+2 program, she was offered at Cohen-Hammel Fellows Program scholarship and decided to stay at Penn State Berks. The Cohen-Hammel Fellows Program is a comprehensive scholarship program for outstanding students. Each student receives $7,000 per academic year for all four years of enrollment at Penn State Berks, as long as the student fulfills the requirements of the program. 
She explained that she fell in love with the Berks campus. “I have had so many opportunities here at Penn State Berks,” she explained. “It’s a beautiful campus, I enjoyed the curriculum and I was close to home. I have no regrets about my decision.” 
During her time at Penn State Berks, Rodriguez took advantage of all the college had to offer. She was a Penn State Schreyer Honors Scholar, and as part of this prestigious society, she conducted research and completed a thesis titled “Fairness in AI,” working with her faculty adviser Abdullah Konak, distinguished professor of information sciences and technology. She also had an opportunity to give a poster presentation on her thesis at the INFORMS Analytics Conference in Orlando, Florida from April 14–16. 
Rodriguez had other opportunities to conduct research as well. She completed a study on drought resistance and created a dashboard to help inform policy makers’ decisions. She served as an assistant for the college’s National Biomechanics Day, and as a panelist in a recent AIMS (Artificial Intelligence, Modeling, and Simulation) Lab event held during national AI Week where she presented her research. 
She also completed an internship at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in their AI and data science division in Dallas, Texas. In addition, she served as president of the college’s entrepreneurship and innovation club, secretary for Christian Student Fellowship and an SGA representative for the Berks Technology Club.  
“I took a heavy course load, but clubs helped me to make connections to other students on campus,” she stated. 
During the college’s recent Academic Awards presentation, she received the Berks Scholars Award, Outstanding Internship/Co-op Student Award, the Weidenhammer Systems Achievement Award in Information Technology, Cybersecurity Analytics and Operations and Security and Risk Analysis, established by John Weidenhammer, founder and president of Weidenhammer Systems Corporation.  
Rodriguez explains that her commencement speech, “What’s the Point?” is reflective of her experiences at the college and how those experiences have helped her to build character. 
Outside Penn State Berks, Rodriguez is active in Glad Tidings Assemblies of God, where she is a vocalist and plays the piano, a talent she has pursued since elementary school.  
After graduation, Rodriguez will complete an internship at Brentwood Industries in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, to expand her knowledge base. Then she will begin a full-time position as a data science analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Delaware in September.  
When asked how her experience at Penn State Berks has prepared her for her future career, she stated, “I gained a lot of confidence in my abilities. I conducted research for most of my time at the college.” 
Rodriguez stated that her ultimate goal for the future is to leverage technology to make lives better.