2020 Best & Brightest: Deven Rodriguez, St. John’s University (Tobin)

Deven Rodriguez

St. John’s University, The Peter J. Tobin College of Business

A person motivated by death so that he may live, not simply exist.”

Fun fact about yourself: I ran a 105-mile ultramarathon before running a marathon (still yet to do that).

Hometown: Queens, NY

High School: Christ the King Regional High School

Major: Management

Favorite Business Course: Administration & Organizational Behavior

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • ROTC Battalion Commander
  • President & Founder, The Society of Growth and Success
  • John’s University President’s Society member ’19-20
  • John’s University Catholic Scholar
  • Student Government Representative
  • “Plunge Leader”: Lead a group of 12 students to Downtown, Los Angeles, for a week of service.
  • Attended 3 service trips to Los Angeles, CA, Philadelphia, PA and Houston, TX.
  • Awards/Honors:
    • #3 ROTC cadet in America (out of 5700+).
    • President’s Society Member
    • Dean’s list all four years
    • Honors program- 4.0/4.0 GPA
    • S. Army Airborne School Honor Graduate (Ranked top of class out of 361 soldiers and cadets)
    • Completed Army’s Cultural Understanding & Leadership Program (CULP).

Where have you interned during your college career?

Due to ROTC, I have been unable to intern at any company. However, below I will highlight the opportunities that ROTC has presented me:

  • S. Army Cultural Understanding and Leadership Program (CULP): Traveled to Morocco in order to take part in a one-month cultural awareness and leadership program in which I trained with Royal Military Academy Cadets and performed varying types of service throughout the country.
  • ROTC Advanced Camp: This 39-day course is a pre-requisite for all 3rd-year students to attend. I was evaluated on multiple tasks such as Land Navigation, First-Aid, Physical fitness, and other areas. However, the course mostly focuses on evaluating cadet leadership attributes and competencies by utilizing small unit tactics. I was responsible for the completion of a mission in which I had to lead an element of 34 other cadets while thinking critically and analytically to make sound tactical decisions in order to successfully complete the mission.
  • S. Army Airborne School: Attended the world-famous U.S. Army airborne course. During this 21-day course, I learned how to successfully become an Army Paratrooper. I was blessed enough to have earned the title on “Honor Graduate,” essentially ranking #1 out of 361 soldiers/cadets at the course.
  • S. Army Cadet Leader Training (CTLT): Attend a 3-week program at Schofield Barracks in Oahu, Hawaii in which I was integrated with an active-duty infantry platoon and was responsible for shadowing the platoon leader and developing courses of action to help improve the platoon’s performance. Therefore, it was my first opportunity to lead active-duty soldiers.

Where will you be working after graduation? U.S. Army, 2nd Lieutenant, Infantry

Who is your favorite professor? My favorite professor is Professor Gerald Cusack. He has had a profound impact on me. Professor Cusack is the most genuine and caring professor that I’ve ever had. His classes are always insightful and have helped me become more self-aware. Not only that, but his sense of humor makes class extremely enjoyable. There’s not a moment that he is not telling an informative story or analogy or having us discuss a piece of content. Beyond all of this, however, Professor Cusack just showed me every time we had class that he loved what he was doing. I just felt it. His vibrancy and authenticity radiate through the classroom and has rubbed off on me in both classes in which I’ve had him. Thank you very much, Professor Cusack.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? I enjoyed how willing the professors are to help their students. The Tobin College of Business professors not only focus on teaching us lessons about the course material, but I have found that they are actually invested in our self-growth and development. They are always available and accessible for mentorship, coaching, or just simple advice.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? What’s surprised me the most about studying business is that there is literally a profession for anyone within the field of business. From Actuarial Science to Finance to Management, no matter what your personality is, you can find something in the business world for you.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? Personally, my stewardship and excellence in ROTC are what I am most proud of. Through my four years at St. John’s ROTC has been a cornerstone in developing me as a person. To be able to rank as the #3 cadet in the nation and make history here at St. John’s is special. However, I am most proud of my accomplishment because I believe that it shows others that one can achieve the “impossible. “

All my life I have never been the smartest, fastest, or most naturally gifted. For a while, I used that as a crutch to explain why I couldn’t be like “them.” I’m referring to the people who did extraordinary things on a regular basis. It was only once I stopped limiting myself by putting titles on others that I started to see that I didn’t have to have any natural ability whatsoever to be like “them.”

I do not want anyone to think that this ranking is about me, because to me it isn’t. I want this to be the beacon of light for other cadets and students. I want others to think, “Well if he did it, why can’t I?” I am so proud of this because it has given me a platform to inspire, lead, mentor, and coach younger students and cadets in the right direction and show others that boundaries are truly figures of our imagination. There is nothing on this earth that I appreciate more than someone saying “You’ve inspired me,” and as a senior leader in ROTC, or leader in general, that has been, and always will be my goal.

Which classmate do you most admire? The classmate whom I most admire is Jennifer Locascio. Like me, she is a business student. I admire her not only she is one of the best students that I have met, but she is a person who relies on God and her faith for all that she does. Despite taking a lot of courses and pursuing multiple degrees, she can integrate excellence in the classroom with service to those who are on the margins of society. Furthermore, she treats and every person with respect and dignity, while also being extremely supportive of all of her friend’s goals. Simply, “J-LO” is a person who purses excellence but does it through revealing the excellence and value in others. We are lucky to have a beacon of light in society like her.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I want to thank my grandmother, Bruna. Unfortunately, I lost my beautiful grandmother on August 10th, 2016. I chose my grandmother because, throughout my college journey, she has inspired me every single day.

On the day she passed, I stood next to her and looked her in the eyes. Despite her not being able to speak, I said, “I am going to make you so proud.” I gave her one final kiss and walked away. That changed my life. Going forward from that point, I had it ingrained in my mind that it was my duty to make her proud, and excellence in every area of my life was the only way to do that. So, from day one of college, I had no choice but to succeed.

She’s no longer here, yet she still provides me with all the intrinsic motivation I need to push myself and continue to grow as a student, leader, and man. These past four years I have never given up. If I would’ve given up, I would’ve also given up on her, and that will never happen. I love you nonna!

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  • Create the world’s largest leadership consulting organization.
  • Become a special forces/special operations officer.

What are your hobbies?

  • Reading self-development books
  • Running and lifting weights
  • Traveling
  • Leading discussions on personal growth
  • Spending valuable time with friends and family

What made Deven such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“Deven brings value to every class because he has a hunger within to be involved and engage the learning process.  He wants to participate, he wants to interact and he wants to be successful.

Deven is driven to learn so he can develop as a person and a professional.

He is the student all professors want – genuinely inquisitive, eager to learn, and fully participates in class.

Deven typifies the brand of student we wish to graduate from Tobin – bright, articulate, and ready to make an impact.”

Dr. Niall C. Hegarty
Associate Professor, Management
Director of Dean’s Scholars Program 


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