Helton Rodriguez just graduated from Good Counsel with a 4.2 GPA, has been offered over $800,000 in scholarships, and has been accepted to Boston College, Notre Dame, George Washington, Maryland (College Park), UMBC, and UNC Chapel Hill. As you can see above, Helton has chosen to go to school in South Bend, Indiana this fall at the University of Notre Dame...but the path Helton has taken to get here has not been without difficulties.
Helton is a first generation American (his family is Salvadoran). He was born and raised in Maryland, primarily in Gaithersburg, Germantown, and Rockville. When he was around 8 years old, his mother was diagnosed with cancer. She passed away when he was 10, on the final day of the World Cup in 2010, Rodriguez recalls.
At the time he was attending St. Martin's in Gaithersburg. His uncle was helping his mother pay for tuition at the private school prior to her passing. He officially took Helton in and raised him for the next few years until his incarceration and subsequent deportation. He finished that school year living at his best friend's house, but didn't know where he'd go next.
Many families offered to take Helton in, but everything would keep falling through at the last minute. It wasn't until just before his freshman year at Good Counsel that he was taken in by the Abudayeh family. Vivian Abudayeh was battling cancer at the same time Helton's mother was, but was able to survive. She informed her husband of the situation and Helton has been with the family ever since.
Helton knew he wanted to be a student at Good Counsel after attending a football game when he was in 6th grade. He remembers watching Stefon Diggs play and fell in love with the school spirit displayed at the game. "There was also this letterman jacket in the display case that looked so tuff" Rodriguez told me ("tuff" is local slang for cool, awesome, or simply nice). "Good Counsel was honestly the only school I thought about."
Fast forward to 2018 and Helton is on his way to the University of Notre Dame. He says there are countless people that have motivated him- mentioning his mother, his uncle, the family he currently lives with, his teachers, his friends, and so many people he has met throughout his life as inspiration. He will major in Biology this fall and his plan is to eventually go to medical school to become a cardiologist.
This young man's courage and perseverance is something I truly admire. We wish him the best of luck going forward and hope he checks in with us periodically as he takes the nest steps towards the dream. Helton, you're awesome!