Alumna comes ‘home’ as Abington's first Spanish-speaking admissions counselor

Abington Spanish speaking admissions counselor

Alberlin Del Orbe Rodriguez, the first Spanish-speaking admission counselor at Penn State Abington, finds that she connects easily with prospective students and their loved ones since she faced similar challenges and concerns as a first generation college student.

Credit: Regina Broscius

ABINGTON, Pa. — Alberlin Del Orbe Rodriguez was hired last fall as Penn State Abington's first Spanish-speaking admissions counselor. Her journey to earning a college degree in 2020 from Penn State Abington mirrors that of the large population of first-generation college students at the campus, and, she said, she is grateful for the opportunity to support them. 

“For me, this job is so personal," she said. "There are students who don’t know where their path will lead them, and I want them to know it’s okay to be confused and frustrated. There are so many people at Abington to help you including the admissions office, professors and advisers.

“Sometimes I sit down with parents, and they are so worried, but we have a conversation. I’m someone who knows where they’re coming from. It’s a very humbling experience, and I can connect with them and reassure them,” added Del Orbe Rodriguez.

As the oldest child of parents who immigrated from the Dominican Republic, she had a strong support system, she said, but her family lacked the experience to help her navigate higher education processes.  

“I was at a disadvantage when it came to applying to colleges, but I was really resilient and figured it out,” she said of managing admissions, financial aid and scholarship applications. 

During her years at Abington, Del Orbe Rodriguez marshaled every resource at her disposal and with that support she earned a degree in corporate communication in three years, despite multiple challenges that could have derailed her dream.  

“I had health issues and couldn’t go to class, which led me to being on academic probation. It was so scary, but I went to the Center for Student Achievement to help me get back on track. At one point, I couldn’t afford books so my adviser sent me to the financial aid office. They provided me with gift cards for books, and I made it through the semester,” she said. 

There was additional, loving pressure from her parents to earn a degree as a stepping stone to better economic opportunities, she said.

“My goal was to work as hard as possible to get to the finish line, make my parents proud and be an example to my siblings. I took summer classes, worked two part-time jobs, and pushed myself,” Del Orbe Rodriguez, who grew up in Philadelphia, said. 

She became more confident as she progressed toward her degree despite setbacks and the impact of the pandemic on her final two semesters. 

“I felt more comfortable and not so alone as I progressed,” she said. 

After graduating in the fall of 2020, Del Orbe Rodriguez worked in retail, banking and the automotive industry, but, she said, her husband urged her to find something that would be more personally fulfilling. 

“My sister was going through the college application process, and I realized that higher education was where I wanted to work. When I found this opening at Abington, I knew it was meant to be. I am so excited to be on the other end of the process and supporting families and students. I’ve come full circle. It’s good to be back at Abington,” she said. 

About Penn State Abington 

Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible and high-impact education to its diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st-century public higher education within a world-class research university. With more than 3,100 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers bachelor’s degrees in 25 majors, undergraduate research, the Schreyer Honors College, NCAA Division III athletics and more.