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49ers Nominee Julian Rodriguez Named Finalist for NFL's Hispanic Heritage Fund

For the third year in a row, the NFL is partnering with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation as the exclusive sponsor of the Youth Sports & Fitness Awards, recognizing Latino youth who have contributed to the sports and fitness arenas. This season, the NFL and Hispanic Heritage Foundation will honor outstanding Latino youth football players throughout the League's 32 club markets with the Hispanic Heritage Fund.

The San Francisco 49ers nominee, Julian Rodriguez, has been named a finalist for the annual award.

The Hispanic Heritage Fund award highlights Latino excellence with a focus on football and the next generation of fans and players. Rodriguez is a student-athlete at Christopher High School from Gilroy, California who's displayed success both on and off the field. He is a starting offensive guard on the school's football team, has recorded over 100 hours of volunteer work and has maintained a 4.41 GPA.

"To be recognized as a grant award winner means so much to me," Rodriguez said. "There are so many people in our community that are so deserving of this award. So, for me to be chosen to represent all of us, it's amazing."

Rodriguez's identity is rooted in his Mexican-American heritage. The student athlete shared that his culture is a "big part of who he is."

"It's the language I speak at home, it's the music I listen to, the food I eat," Rodriguez said. "It's my entire family around me that I know."

As a high school senior, Rodriguez has focused his attention to higher eduction. He aspires to attend a four-year university and study engineering, a path inspired by his family's background.

"Continuing my education has always been so important to me, whether it's formally or informally," Rodriguez said. "My mother has a master's degree and my dad and my grandpa, who by training are engineers and mechanics that know so much. I want to mix those and I plan to go into engineering – hands on with a formal education – it's what I've always wanted."

As a finalist, Rodriguez has received scholarship money for college and will be celebrated during Super Bowl week with a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada, home of Super Bowl LVIII. After being recognized by the NFL and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, Rodriguez reflected on the influence the sport of football has had on his life.

"The biggest impact that football has had on me is my work ethic," Rodriguez said. "It's really helped with my time management and my perseverance. There's so many times where I really don't want to go to practice, or I get home really late and I have homework, but I know that it's all worth it in the end. Going forward, it's definitely something I want to be around. Whether or not it's playing, I've always loved the sport. So, I plan to be around it somehow."

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