New SDSU Imperial Valley School of Nursing assistant director is a product of the program

Erika Rodriguez will serve as the new assistant director for the undergraduate program.

Monday, March 4, 2024
Erika Rodriguez has taught at SDSU Imperial Valley for nearly 10 years for SDSU Imperial Valley’s School of Nursing. (Photo courtesy of KT Baeza)
Erika Rodriguez has taught at SDSU Imperial Valley for nearly 10 years for SDSU Imperial Valley’s School of Nursing. (Photo courtesy of KT Baeza)

Erika Rodriguez began her journey at SDSU Imperial Valley as a nursing undergraduate student, where she was part of the first cohort for the Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program in 2007. 

Now, fast forward to 2024, Rodriguez began her new position as the assistant director for SDSU Imperial Valley’s School of Nursing undergraduate program. The program that provided the foundation to launch Rodriguez’s career is now under her direction to grow and support.

“It has been a full circle moment, truly,” said Rodriguez. “I commuted for three years to also do my master’s degree in nursing at SDSU to become a clinical nurse specialist. It was also during that time that I began teaching as an adjunct professor.”

Under the mentorship of Helina Hoyt, former director of SDSU Imperial Valley’s School of Nursing for 17 years, Rodriguez was encouraged to pursue a professorship as the program needed more faculty members to fulfill the creation of new classes. 

In her first few years as a faculty member, Rodriguez also worked in critical care units in various hospitals across San Diego where she would also mentor new nurses. 

“As a student, Helina Hoyt and other faculty at the time instilled in us that it was important to ‘grow our own’ nurses and health care professionals in Imperial Valley,” said Rodriguez. “When I began teaching, I felt like I was doing a service to my community by preparing the next generation of local nurses.”

Rodriguez’s connection to her grandparents partly inspired her to pursue a career in nursing. As a young adult, she helped her grandparents translate medical documents from Spanish to English and provided translation during their doctor appointments. It was during those appointments that she saw firsthand the care and compassion many of the nurses had with her grandparents.  

“I was intrigued by the healthcare field from a young age,” said Rodriguez. “From there on, I have loved being a nurse. I always say I am a nurse first and everything else is second. You are always representing the profession wherever you go. I am deeply passionate about helping our patients and getting to help others outside of the hospital, too.”

Rodriguez has seen the evolution of SDSU Imperial Valley’s School of Nursing, first as a student, then as a professor, and now as the newly named assistant director. She was a part of the launch of the school’s accelerated pre-licensure BSN program 2022, and now, to help combat the critical nursing shortage in the region, Rodriquez has her eye on further expansion of the program.

“The majority of our local nurses have studied and launched their career in Imperial Valley,” said Rodriguez. “All of our graduates have a personal connection with one another and they have a strong sense of community and passion to help others. We want our community members – and future nurses – to understand that you don’t have to leave the Valley to begin your higher education journey.”

Categorized As