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APSU's largesse noted on hit reality show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”

Austin Peay State University played a starring role Sunday night, Sept. 25, in the two-hour season premiere of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, filmed in July 2005.

The popular design team for ABCs hit reality show led local volunteers in building a handicap-accessible home for Luis Rodriguez, a medic with the 101st Airborne Division, who lost a leg and two fingertips while serving in Iraq. Rodriguez, who has undergone about 20 surgeries, refused a medical discharge and continues to train other Army medics.
Austin Peay State University played a starring role Sunday night, Sept. 25, in the two-hour season premiere of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” filmed in July 2005.

The popular design team for ABC's hit reality show led local volunteers in building a handicap-accessible home for Luis Rodriguez, a medic with the 101st Airborne Division, who lost a leg and two fingertips while serving in Iraq. Rodriguez, who has undergone about 20 surgeries, refused a medical discharge and continues to train other Army medics.

Rodriguez's wife Lilliam, is a full-time student at APSU, majoring in social work. She also is a full-time mom to the couple's daughters, Michelle, 9, and Melanie, 6.

Before a record-breaking national audience, star Ty Penningtonnoting the sacrifices made by the spouses of soldiersshowed Lilliam a special study area designed for her in the newly constructed home.

Handing Lilliam an Austin Peay baseball cap, Pennington told her APSU wanted to provide a scholarship to help her to complete her bachelor's and master's degrees. Her goal is to work with other military spouses whose husband or wife died or was injured in the line of duty.

Lilliam is on track to complete her bachelor's degree in social work in May 2006with her last year compliments of APSU. If she wants to continue, she will apply to enroll in APSU's proposed new Master of Science in Social Work in Fall 2006. She has been approved for a graduate assistantship, which will include serving 20 hours per week in an office or department related to social work. The current value of graduate assistantships is about $10,000 per year.

In July, President Sherry Hoppe went to the construction site to present the scholarship check to the design team prior to the “big reveal.” Later this fall, Hoppe again presented the scholarship directly to Lilliam. —Dennie B. Burke