Phenomenal Woman: Dr. Evangelina Rodriguez

Dr. Andrea Evangelina Rodríguez Perozo, Doctor:

Born on November 10, 1879, in San Rafael de el Yuma, La Altagracia, Dominican Republic. Was raised by her paternal grandmother after being abandoned by her biological parents.

At 12 she became a part-time home health aid to Dominican Poet and Journalist, Rafael Alfredo, who became her mentor and encouraged her to attend the Instituto de Señoritas.

Dr. Rodriguez began her academic career with the intent to become a teacher. It wasn’t until she met the founder of the Instituto, Salomé Ureña, Anacaona Moscoso, that she decided to become headmistress herself.

Moscoso, however, motivated Dr. Rodriguez to pursue medicine, which she did in 1903 through the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo Departamento de Medicina (founded in 1538). After six years, she received her medical degree. Becoming the first woman doctor in the Dominican Republic in 1909.

But being an Afro-Latina physician, she found it incredibly challenging to make a living.

The lack of opportunity forced her to move to Ramom Santana, an area embroiled in guerrilla warfare under genocidal dictator, Rafael Trujillo.

Her defiance of Trujillo’s regime meant that she, and her work were erased from much of Dominican history at the time. She faced harassment and police violence at the hands of supporters.

Yet still Dr. Rodriguez fought to improve the quality of life, and welfare of Dominicans. Founding:

• Banco de Leche Materna (Mother’s Milk Bank)

• Gota de Leche (Cow’s Milk Dispensary)

• Sociedad Protectora de la Maternidad y la Infancia (Society for the Protection of Mothers and Infants)

Clinics for vaccinations, sanitariums does tuberculosis patients, asylums for people with leprosy.

She advocated for school-based sex education, family planning, birth control, and venereal disease prevention and treatment. All the while still teaching during evenings and nights.

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