Student Cancer Survivor Helps Organization That Helped Her

For Christa Rodriguez ’19, the road to Franklin & Marshall College was arduous. In the summer before starting her last year of high school, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer in the blood.

“My doctors told me I could not go to any campus where there are tons of germs,” the 22-year-old English major said. “You can’t be around a lot of people that you don’t know.”

To defer F&M for a year was just one more challenge she had to face. “That was kind of rough because your life is at a pause,” Rodriguez said. “You have to put on a brave face. You have that ‘fight-or-flight’ response where you just push through and push through until you’re good for a while.”

At the time, Rodriguez was 17 and eligible for Make-A-Wish, a 38-year-old foundation that arranges experiences or “Wishes” for critically diagnosed children.  She waited until she was in remission before she enjoyed her Wish, a trip to Disneyland.

In her junior year, Rodriguez became a development intern in the foundation’s Philadelphia office. She interviewed families about their Wish experience and wrote stories that were used in fundraising campaigns or as blogs to build support.  

A Marshall Fellow, a tutor at the Writing Center, and an editor for the College Reporter, Rodriguez said she loves writing and hopes to land a job at Make-A-Wish after she graduates.

“I really enjoy nonprofit work, and I really enjoy helping people,” Rodriguez said. “As an English major, I can do both – use my writing skills and help people.”