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Tony Rodriguez '75

Antonio (Tony) Rodriguez ’75 remembers sitting in Father Kelly’s office, his senior year guidance counselor, with his parents, who did not speak English, and translating the conversation. Tony would be the first in his family to attend college and Father Kelly was challenging him to consider schools that were not on his radar. He thought Tony should be applying to Princeton University to maximize potential opportunities.
Tony’s parents made sacrifices for their children when they immigrated to the United States. Settling in the Ironbound section of Newark they chose to invest in their children’s future in order to realize the American Dream by sending them to Catholic high school. Tony first attended Saint Benedict’s as a freshman, but when the school closed in 1972, he transferred to Seton Hall Prep. It was during his time at The Prep where he discovered a “rich environment in terms of courses, teachers and fellow classmates” which broadened his horizons. They were transformative years for which Tony is forever grateful. In honor of his parents and all their support, he has created the Delmiro & Marina Rodriguez Scholarship Fund to give a student from the Greater Newark Area, with a similar background to his, the opportunity to become a critical thinker, discover his passion and gain the confidence that being part of the Seton Hall Prep Community affords.
Tony went on to Princeton University (graduating magna cum laude in economics) and a successful business career, but his high school experience was the foundation upon which it was all built, including his passion for languages. He had already spoken Spanish before English, however his language teachers at The Prep, Richard Morris for Spanish IV and Robert Fischer for French, moved beyond teaching just communication and introduced him to the literature and history of those countries. It ignited a life-long interest that has led him to become fluent in five languages, something he would never have imagined.

“By creating this scholarship,” Tony remarked, “I want to give a student the opportunity to enjoy the experience I had at The Prep.” It was not  an idea he was thinking about until he met a fellow alum at a Seton Hall Prep gathering in California a few years ago. It was the words of Bob Pastore ’60 that got Tony to think about additional ways by which he will give back. “I’ve been inspired to leave a legacy in all my philanthropic activities,” he continued, “but I want to do something while I am alive to witness the potential benefits, so I can use this learning to fine-tune my will and estate plan. I look forward to seeing the impact philanthropy can have on a student’s trajectory.”

The first student to be awarded the Delmiro & Marina Rodriguez Scholarship is an incoming student in the Class of 2026. Tony is enthusiastic about this scholarship and “the opportunity it provides to Newark students like me to get the best preparation
for college which will change their trajectory and allow them to make a meaningful difference. If this happens, we should see more future Prep graduates fulfilling the potential inspired in me by Father Kelly and hopefully giving back.”
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