Gerardo Rodriguez, MD was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, in 1970. My parents immigrated to this country from Mexico in the late 1960s and settled in southern California. Like many Mexican immigrants of that time, my parents were children of farmers, and grew up in tough, yet family-focused homes. Along with my three younger brothers, I grew up in East Los Angeles, a part of town made up mostly of working class Mexicans and Chicanos.
I was the first member of my family to attend college and the only one to earn a professional degree. Upon graduating from high school in 1988, I attended California Polytechnic State University, where I enrolled in the electrical engineering program. However, within a year, disillusioned by my field of study, I dropped out – an unfortunate and much too common outcome for many Chicanos. I returned home, and a couple of years later, finding a new interest in the health care field, I enrolled in a technical school and earned my license in respiratory therapy