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  Cornell University

Rochelle Jackson-Smarr

Role

Rochelle’s primary work is to oversee the training and development of student leadership community engagement initiatives. She works closely with the Engaged Student Ambassadors to implement the FUEL Fellowship and administer the Community-Engaged Student Grant Program and the Clinton Global Initiative University program, along with partnering with Engaged Cornell offices to develop student engagement programs and events.

Background

Rochelle began her career in service-learning by resurrecting the Student Homeless Alliance at San Jose State University in the spring of 2006. As a student leader she created an overnight solidarity event, Poverty Under the Stars, where students, faculty, and community members slept-out to raise awareness of homelessness and advocate for more transitional housing in Silicon Valley. The event is now in its tenth year. In the fall of 2006, she co-founded the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project (GCCWP) in response to the continued government disinvestment in the region. Rochelle led two service-learning trips to the Gulf Coast region to assist residents with their rebuilding efforts and to advocate for the creation of a civic works program.

She completed her bachelor’s degree in English with honors in May 2008 and received a MA in educational leadership, politics, and advocacy with honors from New York University in 2012, where she focused her studies on holistic student development programming. After completing her master’s program, she was a community organizer for a national education reform organization. For the past two years, she managed a community-based research and service fellowship, where she took a group of students on an applied-research trip to the Dominican Republic in the spring of 2014.

Rochelle brings her passion for experiential learning and experiences in community-based organizations and participation in student led social-action groups to her position as assistant director of student leadership.

Research

As a policy intern with The After-School Corporation (TASC), Rochelle co-drafted the white-paper “Where the Kids Are: Digital Learning and Beyond.” The paper highlights the emergence of technology within the classroom, at home and in out-of-school time activities. The paper showcased four different organizations within the TASC network that leveraged technology in a variety of ways to enhance student learning and development.

Engagement

For two years, Rochelle traveled between California, Philadelphia, and Chicago as a labor organizer assisting public service employees with their membership building campaigns. During this time, Rochelle was the lead on two campaigns, where she oversaw a team and participated in member contract negotiations. As a community education organizer, Rochelle developed a grassroots parent-organizing campaign for the Harlem community. Rochelle facilitated parent meetings and outreach campaigns to advocate to increase parent voice in school governance, teacher hiring, and transparency with school budgets.

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