spea magazine


Rhode-map for success

Work hard and believe in yourself.

ed and efiginia rhodesEfiginia Lao Rhodes was born in the Philippines, the oldest daughter of nine children of a Chinese merchant retailer in a faraway village. Economic hardships and the commencement of World War II ended any hopes for prosperity there. By the end of the war, Efiginia was 20 years old and had virtually no assets and only an elementary school education. After marrying a U.S. G.I. and with just the clothes on her back, one small bag, and one-year-old son Edwardo, she came to the U.S. to start a new life.

Fast forward 40 years. Efiginia is a major property-owner in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She sent her four sons to Ivy League schools – to become a professor, a lawyer, a state representative/commissioner, and a doctor. Her daughter danced with the Dance Theatre of Harlem. The Governor could not attend one of her son’s weddings – but made sure the Speaker of the House was there.

The secret of her success, according to her son, SPEA Professor Edwardo Rhodes, is she firmly believed that if you worked hard you could do anything you set your mind to do. “She had us believing it, too, that we could go anywhere and be anything we wanted,” says Rhodes.

To honor his mother, who passed away last November, Edwardo established the Efiginia Lao Rhodes Tirado International Scholarship at SPEA. The Scholarship will support underrepresented students and students with financial need who wish to study in Asia during their undergraduate years.

Ed decided he wanted to do something lasting and meaningful for his mother after she became seriously ill. Efiginia placed a high value on education, relentlessly drilling the siblings in spelling and math when they were children, and imploring them to achieve excellence. An endowed scholarship in her name seemed an appropriate tribute. When Ed told her of his plans, she seemed pleased. “I think being remembered was important to her,” said Ed.

Efiginia will be remembered each year by students who receive her Scholarship. And in a way, her message that you can go anywhere and be anything will live on.

Edwardo Rhodes' fields of interest and specialization include public policy analysis, particularly public sector applications of management science in the evaluation, and assessment of the efficiency or organization performance of public activities. He received his PhD from Carnege Mellon University.