One of the great joys about living in this community is seeing the amazing opportunities youth have access to, as well as the ambition youth have to seek opportunities out for themselves. When first meeting Franco Rodriguez, a Junior at Eagle Valley High School, he comes across as quiet and unassuming. However, as soon as he starts talking, one learns he has a resume that rivals anyone 10 or 20 years older than him. What’s even more inspiring is his humility as he discusses his activities, awards, and future goals. Franco may be the first young person I’ve met that knows when he wants to retire and has a plan to get there (at age 55 by the way), and this won’t just be a retirement but a chance to earn his PhD and go on to be a professor of film making in his later years.
At an early age of 6, Franco was introduced to photography and film-making that has led him on a creative and fulfilling path. In his free time, he is taking classes and workshops through colleges. As a part of school, he serves in the role of executive producer of media stuff for the EVTV (Eagle Valley TV) journalism class. EVTV was asked to create a story for Rocky Mountain PBS about the effects of the pandemic on schools. The story was such a success they put it on the national PBS news hour! Franco has entered many video competitions and found tremendous success. He won the national energy foundation competition, out of 145 contestants in 9 states, on a piece about global warming and the benefit of buying electric vehicles. He also won best cinematography, best lighting, best sound design, and best computer effects in the 2022 Dare Devil Film Fest. His work with EVTV also achieved 3 Best of Colorado awards. His amazing portfolio can be viewed here.
Photography and film-making has led to his own company, Digital Realities, since 2021, but these are not his only passions. He greatly enjoys bowling, plays on a league and works at the bowling alley. He also builds his own computers from scratch so that they are faster, less expensive, and can handle the editing he needs to do. He is really into cars, new and old, and excited to be driving a BMW. If he doesn’t go to the New York Film Academy in LA, as is his current plan, Franco also has an interest in mechanical and automotive technologies, or space and chemistry. He and his mom participate in Walking Mountains and Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement events. He has a close relationship with his older brother and enjoys celebrating milestones together. When not seen pursuing one of these interests, Franco appreciates skiing and being on the mountain.
For the past 10 years, Franco has participated in SOS Outreach. He’s gone through the entire program and now serves as a Jr. Mentor to local youth. He enjoys the feeling of having a responsibility to look forward to and hopes that through his mentorship, other youth won’t have to go through the adverse childhood experiences that he faced. Franco expresses concern for his current peers and the choices they are making. His hope is that they can be taught how to be safer if they’re going to choose high risk behaviors, like substance use, and feels Narcan should be everywhere- as accessible as fire extinguishers. When asked what wisdom he would like to impart on his peers, Franco shares, “Be careful – go for everything you say and do – and ask for help when you need it.”
His teacher, Drake Brown, shares: Franco is one of those kids that uses his imagination to think critically through tough situations. I appreciate his honest dialogue when it comes to talking about issues today's youth face. He doesn't sugarcoat the fact that there are a lot of kids struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues, and he uses himself as an example to illustrate that you can create positive change within yourself to lead your best possible life. Franco's influence through his journalism and photography will, in my opinion, inspire thousands of people. It's been amazing for me to get to know him better over the last three years and I am really proud of where he's at today. I would echo these words and share that it is inspiring to meet Franco and be able to write about his talents, humility, and kindness with our community.
Written by Mikayla Curtis, Mountain Youth Director of Strategic Impact, firstname.lastname@example.org