Newly endowed MLA scholarship honors prof Jon Rodiek's parents

Jon Rodiek

Jon Rodiek

A scholarship endowment gradually funded over the last 18 years by 27 community outreach projects undertaken by students in professor Jon Rodiek's Master of Architecture studios at Texas A&M University reached fruition last fall, for the first time providing scholarships totaling $14,000 for eight new MLA students.

The inaugural recipients of the Elizabeth and Edmund Rodiek MLA Endowed Scholarship, honoring Rodiek's parents and their lifetime dedication to education and self-improvement, were:

  • Naishi Bu, a BA Landscape Architecture, Shenyang Agricultural University, China;
  • Xiaoxiao Cheng, BA Landscape Architecture, Sichuan Agricultural University, BS Horticulture, Hainan University, China;
  • Yuxi Cheng, BS Ecology, Peking University, China;
  • Prajakta Kedar, BA Architecture, Naqpur University, India;
  • Matthew McCreary, BA Social Psychology, University of Toledo, Ohio, MS Environmental Sciences, Louisiana State University, Louisiana;
  • James Montano, BA Mathematics, University of Texas-Austin;
  • Yi Xue, BS Horticulture, Beijing Forestry University, China; and
  • Xin Yang, BS Resource Environment, Beijing Normal University, China.

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Editor's note: Below, in a letter prepared for the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning's Spring 2012 Awards Ceremony, Rodiek shares the story behind the new scholarship and pays tributes to his parents, who realized the value of a good education.

Professor recounts 18-year effort to fund scholarship
honoring his parents Elizabeth and Edmund Rodiek

By Jon Rodiek, FASLA, professor of landscape architecture

The MLA Endowment was first visualized as a possibility in 1994. We had just completed a master plan for a recreation area and detention pond for a subdivision in Victoria, Texas. Our graduate program was a modest one totaling twelve students. Our student numbers were small and financial support was virtually nonexistent. The student population was made up of Texas residents from Houston and Dallas. It seemed a good time to start to do something about the problem.

Thanks to the financial residuals from 27 projects over the next 18 years we have realized the opportunity to award our first scholarships. Eight MLA students were awarded $14,000 this past fall semester.

The scholarship is awarded on the basis of four simple criteria:

  • Awarded to graduate students in the MLA program
  • Awarded to students who have achieved superior academic grades and demonstrated design skills in the field while in the program
  • Awarded to student in financial need
  • When appropriate awarded to out-of-state students

The endowment was created to honor Elizabeth B. Rodiek and Edmond O. Rodiek, my parents. Each had the goal of attending college after high school graduation. While their grades were of the highest level, the limiting factor for them both was a financial one.

Edmond worked for three years full time after high school graduation to save enough money to attend Syracuse University. He had just enough to pay for the first year. “I knew if I could get in, I could stay in”, he told me. He managed to do just that. He graduated three years later, joined the Navy as a Chief Petty Officer, and returned after the war to earn his Master’s at Columbia University. He went into high school and math education for his career.

Elizabeth Rodiek likewise started her college education two years after high school graduation at Eastern Michigan University. A family illness prevented her from completing her education however. She had to go to work full time to support her mother’s family.

Both of them saw a college education as a way to move ahead. Both wished to see their four children go to college. They knew they wouldn’t be able to help us financially so they made it clear to us we needed to achieve at the highest level academically to have any hope of realizing our goals of attending college.

Their belief in education and their lifelong dedication and personal commitment to improving one’s self had its impact on us. We all made it through college and into our professions. Of course without the help of others, none of us could have realized that success.

It is for these reasons that I dedicate this endowed scholarship to honor my parents and to help support graduate students in the pursuit of their education.

I have learned in my 38-year tenure as a college professor that to achieve personal goals is not enough. It is important as well to commit to the effort of assisting others. I do so, as so many others do, through the enterprise of education. Education is a gift we give ourselves. There are, here at Texas A&M and in the U.S. armies of people, who dedicate part of their activities to providing ways to support people who want to learn.

This enterprise is perhaps one of the defining characteristics of our country and Texas A&M University. It enables people to make good decisions and do good things. In this way, we make ourselves and each other better able to serve our society.

My special thanks to Larry Zuber and Trish Panell for helping us through the preparation of the paperwork to establish this endowment.

To Dean Tom Regan who sent a letter to my father and a plaque dedication the endowment. It was done in a timely fashion that allowed my father to learn of the endowment just three days before he succumbed to leukemia. I am eternally grateful for Tom Regan and Trish Panell for that effort.

Thank you to my fellow colleagues on faculty and staff and the Department Head, Forster Ndubisi, for creating the structure in which our graduate students can thrive.

Today we are 38 students strong representing a diverse and multitalented population of students from national and international universities around the globe.
We are so much better and improving continually.

posted April 30, 2012